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LECTUKES ON THE 
PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 



LECTURES 



ON THE 



PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

TOGETHER WITH A WORK ON THE PROOFS 
OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 

BY GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL 

TRANSLATED FROM THE SECOND GERMAN EDITION 

BY THE REV. E, B. SPEIRS, B.D., AND 
J. BURDON SANDERSON 



THK TRANSLATION EDITED 



BY THE REV. E. B. SPEIRS, B.D. 



IN THREE VOLUMES 
VOL. III. 



LONDON 
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER, & CO. I? 

PATERNOSTER HOUSE, CHARING CROSS ROAD 
1895 



The right* of translation and of reproduction are reserved. 



Printed by BALLANTVNE, HANSON & Co. 
At the Ballnntyne Press 



3k vff-ff ' 

v,3 



CONTENTS 



PART III 

PAOK 

THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION continued .... 1-151 

C. The division of the subject 1-6 

I. God in His eternal Idea in-and-for-self ; the king- 
dom of the Father 7-33 

1 . Determination in the element of thought . . 7 

2. Absolute diremption . . . . . . 8 

3. Trinity 9 

II. The eternal Idea of God in the element of conscious- 
ness and ordinary thought, or difference ; the 
kingdom of the Son 33-100 

1 . The positing of the difference . . . -35 

2. The world 36 

3. The essential nature of Man . .... 45 
III. The Idea in the element of the-Church or Spiritual 

Community ; the kingdom of the Spirit . 100-15 1 

a. The conception of the Spiritual Community . . 108 

b. The realisation of the Spiritual Community . . 123 

c. The realisation of the spiritual in universal reality 134 



LECTURES ON THE PROOFS OF THE 
EXISTENCE OF GOD 

FIRST LECTURE 

SECOND LECTURE ....... 

THIRD LECTURE . . . . 

FOURTH LECTURK 

FIFTH LECTURK 

SIXTH LECTURE . 

SEVENTH LECTURK . 



110796 



vi CONTENTS 

PAGK 

EIGHTH LECTURE 2I2 

NINTH LECTURE 

TENTH LECTURE . . . 22 ^ 

ELEVENTH LECTURE . 266 

TWELFTH LECTURE 2 75 

THIRTEENTH LECTURE 2 ' 

FOURTEENTH LECTURE . . ... 2 93 

FIFTEENTH LECTURE ' 35 

SIXTEENTH LECTURE . . . 3 J 3 

AMPLIFICATION OF THE TELEOLOGICAL PROOF . . - 3 2 & 
AMPLIFICATION OF THE TELEOLOGICAL AND ONTOLOGICAL 

PROOFS 347 

AMPLIFICATION OF THE ONTOLOGICAL PROOF 36 

INDEX -368 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF EELIGION 

PAET III 

THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION (Continued) 

C. 

THE DIVISION OF THE SUBJECT. 

I. The absolute, eternal Idea is, in its essential existence, 
in and for itself, God in His eternity before the creation 
of the world, and outside of the world. 

II. The Creation of the World. What is thus created, 
this otherness or other-Being, divides up within itself into 
two sides, physical Nature and finite Spirit. What is 
thus created is therefore an Other, and is placed at first 
outside of God. It belongs to God's essential nature, 
however, to reconcile to Himself this something which 
is foreign to Him, this special or particular element which 
comes into existence as something separated from Him, 
just as it is the nature of the Idea which has separated 
itself from itself and fallen away from itself, to bring 
itself back from this lapse to its truth or true state. 

III. It is the way or process of reconciliation whereby 
Spirit unites and brings into harmony with itself what it 
distinguished from itself in the state of diremption and 
differentiation, and thus Spirit is the Holy Spirit, the 
Spirit is present in its Church. 

Thus the distinctions we make are not made in an 

VOL. III. A 



2 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

external fashion ; but, on the contrary, the action, the 
developed life-force of the Absolute Spirit, is itself an 
eternal life ; it is a development and a carrying back of 
this development into itself. 

Put more definitely, what is involved in this idea is 
that the universal Spirit, the Whole which this Spirit is, 
posits itself together with its three characteristics or 
determinations, develops itself, realises itself, and that 
only at the end we have in a completed form what 
constitutes at the same time its presupposition. It 
exists at first as a Whole, it pre-posits or presupposes 
itself, and exists likewise only at the end. Spirit has 
thus to be considered in the three forms or elements in 
which it posits itself. 

The three forms indicated are : eternal Being in and 
with itself, the form of Universality ; the form of mani- 
festation or appearance, that of Particularisation, Being 
for another ; the form of the return from appearance into 
itself, absolute Singleness or individuality. 

The divine Idea unfolds itself in these three forms. 
Spirit is divine history, the process of self-differentiation, 
of separation or diremption, and of the resumption of 
this ; it is divine history, and this history is to be con- 
sidered in each of these three forms. 

Considered in relation to the subjective consciousness, 
they may further be denned as follows. The first form 
is the element of thought. In pure thought God is as 
He is in-and-for-Himself, is revealed, but He has not yet 
reached the stage of manifestation or appearance, He is 
God in His eternal essence, God abiding with Himself 
and yet revealed. According to the second form He 
exists in the element of the popular or figurative idea, 
in the element of particularisation. Consciousness here 
takes up an attitude of reserve in reference to the 
" Other," and this represents the stage of appearance or 
manifestation. The third element is that of subjectivity 
as such. This subjectivity is partly immediate, and takes 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 3 

the form of feeling, idea, sentiment ; but it is also partly 
subjectivity which represents the Notion, thinking reason, 
the thought of free Spirit, which is free only when it 
returns into itself. 

As regards place or space, the three forms, since they 
appear as development and history in different places, 
so to speak, are to be explained as follows. The divine 
history in its first form takes place outside of the world, 
outside of finitude where there is no space, representing 
God as He is in His essential being or in-and-for-Himself. 
The second form is represented by the divine history in 
a real shape in the world, God in definite completed ex- 
istence. The third stage is represented by the inner 
place, the Spiritual Community, existing at first in the 
world, but at the same time raising itself up to heaven, 
and which as a Church already has Him in itself here on 
earth, full of grace, active and present in the world. 

It is also possible to characterise the three elements, 
and to distinguish them in accordance with the note 
of Time. In the first element God is beyond time, as the 
eternal Idea, existing in the element, of eternity in so far 
as eternity is contrasted with time. Thus time in this com- 
plete and independent form, time in-and-for-self, unfolds 
itself and breaks up into past, present, and future. Thus 
the divine history in its second stage as appearance is re- 
garded as the past, it is, it has Being, but it is Being which 
is degraded to a mere semblance. In taking on the form 
of appearance it is immediate existence, which is at the 
same time negated, and this is the past. The divine 
history is thus regarded as something past, as represent- 
ing the Historical properly so called. The third element 
is the present, yet it is only the limited present, not the 
eternal present, but rather the present which distinguishes 
itself from the past and future, and represents the element 
of feeling, of the immediate subjectivity of spiritual Being 
which is now. The present must, however, also represent 
the third element ; the Church raises itself to Heaven too, 



4 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and thus this Present is one which raises itself as well 
and is essentially reconciled, and is brought by means of 
the negation of its immediacy to a perfected form as 
universality, a perfection or completion which, however, 
does not yet exist, and which is therefore to be conceived 
of as future. It is a Now of the present whose perfect 
stage is before it, but this perfect stage is distinguished 
from the particular Now which is still immediacy, and it 
is thought of as future. 

We have, speaking generally, to consider the Idea as 
divine self-revelation, and this revelation is to be taken 
in the sense indicated by the three categories just men- 
tioned. 

According to the first of these, God exists in a pure 
form for the finite spirit only as thought. This is the 
theoretical consciousness in which the thinking subject 
exists in a condition of absolute composure, and is not 
yet posited in this relation, not yet posited in the form of 
a process, but exists in the absolutely unmoved calm of 
the thinking spirit. Here God is for it thought of, exists 
for thought, and Spirit thus rests in the simple conclusion 
that He brings Himself into harmony with Himself by 
means of His difference which, however, here exists only 
in the form of pure ideality, and has not yet reached the 
form of externality and is in immediate unity with 
Himself. This is the first of these relations, and it exists 
solely for the thinking subject which is occupied with 
the pure content only. This is the Kingdom of the 
Father. 

The second characteristic is the Kingdom of the 
Son, in which God exists, in a general way, for idea or 
figurative thought in the element of mental pictures or 
representation by ideas. This is the moment of separa- 
tion or particularisation in general. Looked at from this 
second standpoint, what in the first stage represented 
God's Other or object, without, however, being defined as 
such, now receives the character or determination of an 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 5 

Other. Considered from the first standpoint, God as the 
Son is not distinguished from the Father, but what is 
stated of Him is expressed merely in terms of feeling. 
In connection with the second element, however, the Son 
is characterised as an Other or object, and thus we pass 
out of the pure ideality of Thought into the region of 
ordinary thought or idea. If, according to the first 
characterisation, God begets only one Son, here He pro- 
duces Nature. Here the Other is Nature, and the 
element of difference thus receives its justification. What 
is thus differentiated is Nature, the world in general, and 
Spirit which is related to it, the natural Spirit. Here 
the element which we have already designated Subject 
comes in, and itself constitutes the content. Man is 
here involved in the content. Since Man is here related 
to Nature, and is himself natural, he has this character 
only within the sphere of religion, and consequently we 
have here to consider Nature and Man from the point of 
view of religion. The Son comes into the world, and 
this is the beginning of faith. When we speak of the 
coming of the Son into the world we are already using 
the language of faith. God cannot really exist for the 
finite spirit as such, for in the very fact that God exists 
for it it is directly involved that the finite spirit does not 
maintain its finitude as something having Being, but that 
it stands in a certain relation to Spirit and is reconciled to 
God. In its character as the finite spirit it is represented 
as in a state of revolt and separation with regard to God. 
It is thus in contradiction with what is its own object 
and content, and in this contradiction lies the necessity 
for its abolition and elevation to a higher form. The 
necessity for this supplies the starting-point, and the 
next step in advance is that God exists for Spirit, that 
the divine content presents itself in a pictorial form to 
Spirit. Here, however, Spirit exists at the same time 
in an empirical and finite form, and thus what God is 
appears to Spirit in an empirical way. Since, however, 



6 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the Divine comes into view, and exists for Spirit in 
history of this kind, this history has no longer the 
character of outward history ; it becomes divine history, 
the history of the manifestation of God Himself. This 
constitutes the transition to the Kingdom of the Spirit, 
in which we have the consciousness that Man is im- 
plicitly reconciled to God, and that this reconciliation 
exists for Man. The process of reconciliation itself is 
contained in Worship. 

It has to he noted further that we do not, as we did 
previously, draw a distinction between Notion, Form, and 
Worship. It will become evident, as we go on to treat 
of the subject, that worship enters in directly everywhere. 
The following general remarks may here be made on this 
point. The element with which we have got to do is 
Spirit, and Spirit is what manifests itself, what essen- 
tially exists for self, or has actual existence, and as thus 
conceived of it never exists alone, but always possesses 
the character of something revealed, something which 
exists for an Other, for its own Other, i.e., for that side of 
Being which is represented by the finite spirit. Worship 
thus is the relation of the finite spirit to the absolute 
Spirit, and for this reason we find that this idea of wor- 
ship is present in each of these elements. 

In this connection a distinction has to be drawn be- 
tween the Idea as it exists in the various elements for 
the Notion, and the Idea as it appears in the form of 
ordinary conception. Religion is universal, not only for 
thought which is marked by culture and intellectual 
grasp, for the philosophical consciousness ; but the truth 
of the Idea of God is manifest also to the ordinary con- 
sciousness which represents things pictorially by ideas, 
and is marked by those necessary characteristics which 
are inseparable from the ordinary or popular ideas of 
things. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 



GOD IN HIS ETERNAL IDEA IN-AND-FOR-SELF. 

Thus, regarded in the element of thought, God is, so 
to speak, outside of or before the creation of the world. 
In so far as He is thus in Himself, He represents the 
eternal Idea which is not yet posited in its reality, but 
is itself as yet merely the abstract Idea. 

Thus God in His eternal Idea still exists in the 
abstract element of thought, and not in that of notional 
comprehension. It is this pure Idea with which we are 
already acquainted. This is the element of thought, the 
Idea in its eternal presence, as it exists for free thought, 
whose fundamental characteristic is the untroubled light, 
self-identity, an element which is as yet unaffected by 
the presence of Being other than itself. 

Within this sphere or element (i.) Determination is 
necessary, inasmuch as thought in general is different 
from thought which comprehends or grasps the process 
of Spirit. The eternal Idea in its essential existence, 
in-and-for-self, is present in thought, the Idea in its 
absolute truth. Eeligion has thus a content, and the 
content is an object ; religion is the religion of men, and 
Man, besides his other qualities, is a thinking conscious- 
ness, and therefore the Idea must exist for thinking 
consciousness. But this is not all that Man is, for it 
is in the sphere of thought that he first finds his true 
nature, and it is only for thought that a universal object 
exists, only to thought can the essence of the object 
show itself; and since in religion God is the object, He 
is essentially an object for thought. He is object inas- 
much as Spirit is consciousness, and He exists for thought 
because it is God who is the object. 

For sensuous or reflective consciousness God cannot 
exist as God, i.e., in His eternal and absolute essentiality. 
His manifestation of Himself is something different from 



8 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

this, and is made to sensuous consciousness. If God 
were present only in feeling, then men would be no higher 
than the beasts. It is true that He does exist for feel- 
ing too, but only in the region of appearance or mani- 
festation. Nor does He exist for consciousness of the 
rationalistic type. Eeflection is certainly thought too ; 
but it has at the same time an accidental character, and 
because of this its content is something chosen at random, 
and is limited. God is certainly not a content of this 
kind. He thus exists essentially for thought. It is 
necessary to put the matter thus when we start from 
what is subjective, from Man. But this is the very truth 
we reach, too, when we start from God. Spirit exists 
for the spirit for which it does exist, only in so far as it 
reveals and differentiates itself, and this is the eternal 
Idea, thinking Spirit, Spirit in the element of its freedom. 
In this region God is the self-revealer, just because He is 
Spirit ; but He is not yet present as outward manifestation. 
That God exists for Spirit is thus an essential principle. ' 

Spirit is what thinks. Within this pure thought the 
relation is of an immediate kind, and there exists no 
difference between the two elements to differentiate them. 
Nothing comes between them. Thought is pure unity 
with itself, from which all that is obscure and dark has 
disappeared. This kind of thought may also be called 
pure intuition, as being the simple form of the activity 
of thought, so that there is nothing between the subject 
and the object, as these two do not yet really exist. This 
kind of thought has no limitation, it is universal activity, 
and its content is no other than the Universal itself ; it 
is pure pulsation within itself. 

2. It, however, passes further into the stage of abso- 
lute Diremption. How does this differentiation come 
about ? Thought is actu, unlimited. The element of 
difference in its most immediate form consists in this 
that the two sides which we have seen to be the two sorts 
of modes in which the principle appears, show their dif- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 9 

ference in their differing starting-points. The one side, 
subjective thought, is the movement of thought in so far 
as it starts from immediate individual Being, and, while 
within this, raises itself to what is Universal and Infinite, 
as is the case with the first proof of the existence of God. 
In so far as it has arrived at the stage of the Universal, 
thought is unlimited ; its end is infinitely pure thought, 
so that all the mist of fmitude has disappeared, and it 
here thinks God ; every trace of separation has vanished, 
and thus religion, thinking upon God, begins. The second 
side is that which has for its starting-point the Universal, 
the result of that first movement, thought, the Notion. 
The Universal is, however, in its turn again an inner 
movement, and its nature is to differentiate itself within 
itself, and thus to preserve within itself the element of dif- 
ference, but yet to do this in such a way as not to disturb 
the universality which is also there. Here universality 
is something which has this element of difference within it- 
self, and is in harmony with itself. This represents the 
abstract content of thought, and this abstract thought is 
the result which has followed from what has taken place. 

The two sides are thus mutually opposed or contrasted. 
Subjective Thought, the thought of the finite spirit, is a 
Process too, inner mediation ; but this process goes on 
outside of it, or behind it. It is only in so far as sub- 
jective thought has raised itself to something higher that 
religion begins, and thus what we have in religion is 
pure motionless abstract thought. The concrete, on the 
other hand, is found in its Object, for this is the kind of 
thought which starts from the Universal, which differen- 
tiates itself, and consequently is in harmony with itself. 
It is this concrete element which is the object for thought, 
taking thought in a general sense. This kind of thought 
is thus abstract thought, and consequently the finite, 
for the abstract is finite ; the concrete is the truth, the 
infinite object. 

3. God is Spirit; in His abstract character He is 



io THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

characterised as universal Spirit which particularises 
itself. This represents the absolute truth, and that 
religion is the true one which possesses this content. 

Spirit is the process referred to ; it is movement, life ; 
its nature is to differentiate itself, to give itself a definite 
character, to determine itself ; and the first form of the 
differentiation consists in this, that Spirit appears as the 
universal Idea itself. This Universal contains the entire 
Idea, but it only contains it, it is the Idea potentially only. 

In the act of judgment or separation, the Other, what 
is put in contrast with the Universal, the Particular, is 
God as that which is distinguished from the Universal, 
but as implying that what is thus distinguished repre- 
sents His entire Idea in-and-for-itself. Thus these two 
characteristics mean the same thing in reference to each 
other mean that there is an identity between them, 
that they are one, that this difference is not merely done 
away with implicitly and that we are merely aware of 
this, but that the fact of their being the same has been 
brought forward into actuality or posited, and that these 
differences are done away with in so far as this differen- 
tiation just means that the difference is actually shown 
to be no difference, and thus the One is at home with 
itself in the Other. 

The fact that this is so is just what is meant by 
Spirit, or, expressed in terms of feeling, by eternal Love. 
The Holy Spirit is eternal love. When we say God is 
love, we are expressing a very great and true thought ; 
but it would be unreasonable merely to take this in such 
a simple way as a simple characterisation of God without 
analysing the meaning of love. 

For love implies a distinguishing between two, and 
yet these two are, as a matter of fact, not distinguished 
from one another. Love, this sense of being outside of 
myself, is the feeling and consciousness of this identity. 
My self-consciousness is not in myself, but in another ; but 
this Other in whom alone I find satisfaction and am at 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION II 

peace with myself and I exist only in so far as I am 
at peace with myself, for if I had not this inner peace I 
would be the contradiction which breaks itself up into 
parts this Other, just because it is outside of me, has its 
self-consciousness only in me. Thus the two are repre- 
sented simply by this consciousness of their being outside 
of themselves and of their identity, and this perception, 
this feeling, this knowledge of the unity, is love. 

God is love ; i.e., He represents the distinction referred 
to, and the nullity of this distinction, the sort of play of 
this act of distinction which is not to be taken seriously, 
and which is therefore posited as something abolished, 
i.e., as the eternal, simple Idea. 

This eternal Idea, accordingly, finds expression in the 
Christian religion under the name of the Holy Trinity, 
and this is God Himself, the eternal Triune God. 

Here God exists only for the man who thinks, who 
keeps within the quiet of his own mind. The ancients 
called this enthusiasm ; it is pure theoretic contempla- 
tion, the supreme repose of thought, but at the same 
time its highest activity manifested in grasping the pure 
Idea of God and becoming conscious of this Idea. The 
mystery of the dogma of God's nature is disclosed to 
men ; they believe in it, and have already vouchsafed 
to them the highest truth, although they apprehend it 
only iu the form of a popular or figurative idea, without 
being conscious of the necessary nature of this truth, and 
without grasping it in its entirety or comprehending it. 
Truth is the unveiling of what Spirit is in-and-for-itself. 
Man is himself Spirit, and therefore the truth exists for 
him. To begin with, however, the truth which comes 
to him does not yet possess for him the form of freedom ; 
it is for him merely something given and received, which, 
however, he can receive only because he is Spirit. This 
truth, this Idea, has been called the dogma of the Trinity. 
God is Spirit, the activity of pure thought, the activity 
which is not outside of itself, which is within the sphere 



12 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

of its own being. * It was Aristotle chiefly who conceived 
of God under the abstract determination of activity. 
Pure activity is knowledge (in the scholastic period actus 
purus) ; but in order that it may actually appear as 
activity, it has to be posited iii its moments or stages. 
Knowledge implies the existence of an Other or object 
which is consciously known, and since it is knowledge 
which knows it, it is reckoned as belonging to it. * This 
explains how God, who represents Being in-and-for-self, 
eternally produces Himself in the form of His Son, dis- 
tinguishes Himself from Himself, and is the absolute act 
of judgment or differentiation. What He thus distin- 
guishes from Himself does not take on the form of some- 
thing which is other than Himself; but, on the contrary, 
what is thus distinguished is nothing more nor less than 
that from which it has been distinguished. God is 
Spirit ; and no darkness, no colouring or mixture enters 
into this pure light. The relation between Father and 
Son is expressed in terms of organic life, and is used in 
the popular or figurative sense. This natural relation is 
merely pictorial, and, accordingly, never entirely corre- 
sponds to the truth that is sought to be expressed. We 
say that God eternally begets His Son, that God dis- 
tinguishes Himself from Himself, and thus we begin to 
say of God that He does this, and that in being in the 
Other whom He has brought into definite existence, or 
posited, He is simply with Himself, has not gone outside 
of Himself, and this is the form of love ; but, at the same 
time, we ought to know that God is Himself just this 
entire act. God is the beginning ; He does this definite 
thing; but He is equally the end only, the totality, and 
it is as totality that God is Spirit. God thought of 
simply as the Father is not yet the True. (Thus in the 
Jewish religion He is conceived of without the Son.) 
He is, on the contrary, Beginning and End ; He is His 
own presupposition, He constitutes Himself His pre- 
supposition this is simply another form of the fact of 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 13 

differentiation He is the eternal Process. The fact that 
this is the truth, and the absolute truth, appears rather 
in the form of something given or taken for granted. 
That this should be consciously known as the entire and 
absolute truth, the truth in-and-for-itself, is, however, 
just the work of philosophy, and is the entire content of 
philosophy. In it it is seen how all that constitutes Nature 
and Spirit presses forward in a dialectic form to this 
central point as to its absolute truth. Here we are not 
concerned to prove that the dogma, this silent mystery, 
is the eternal Truth. That is done, as has been said, 
in the whole of philosophy. 

By way of giving a more definite explanation of these 
characteristics, we may further call attention to the 
following points : 

(a.) When the intention is to express what God is, 
the attributes are what is first thought of. These attri- 
butes are God ; He is defined by means of predicates, 
and this is a mode of expressing the truth which is char- 
acteristic of the ordinary thought, of the understanding. 
Predicates are definite characteristics, particularisations, 
such as goodness, almighty power, &c. 

The predicates certainly do not represent natural 
immediacy, but have got a permanence by means of 
reflection, and in this way the definite content which 
they represent has become immovably fixed in itself, 
exactly as is the natural content by means of which 
God is represented in the religion of Nature. Natural 
objects, such as the sun, the sea, &c., are, they exist ; but 
the determinations of reflection are as much self-identical 
as is natural immediacy. 

As Orientals have a feeling that this is not the true 
mode of expressing the nature of God, they say that He 
is TroAiww/xos, that His nature cannot be exhausted by 
predicates, for names are in this connection the same 
as predicates. 

What is really defective in this way of defining God 



14 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

by means of predicates is that these predicates are only 
particular characterisations, and that there are many such 
particular characterisations, and that it is the subject as 
essentially undifferentiated to which they are attached ; 
and this explains, too, how there comes to be such an 
infinite number of predicates. Since there are particu- 
lar determinations, and since these particularisations are 
viewed in accordance with their determinateness, and ave 
made the subject of thought, they come to be in opposition 
or contradiction with each other, and these contradictions 
accordingly are not harmonised. 

This is further seen when these predicates are taken 
as expressing the relation of God to the world, and when 
the world is thought of as something different from God. 
Being particularisatious, they cannot adequately express 
His nature, and this explains that other way of consider- 
ing them as expressing certain relations between God and 
the world, such as the omnipresence, the infinite wisdom 
of God in the world. 

They do not contain the true relation of God to Him- / 
self, but to an Other, the world namely, and thus they 
are limited, and in this way get to be contradictory. We 
have the feeling that God is not represented in this way 
as living when so many particular features are counted 
up one after the other. Nor is the contradiction which 
they involve truly harmonised by taking away their deter- 
minateness when the Understanding demands that they 
should be taken merely sensu eminentiori. The true 
harmony or solution of the contradiction is contained in 
the Idea, which is the self-determination of God to the 
act of distinguishing Himself from Himself, but is at the 
same time the eternal abolition of the distinction. 

If the element of difference were left remaining, there 
would be contradiction, and if this difference were perma- 
nent, then finitude would arise. Both are independent 
in reference to each other, and they are in relation to each 
other as well. It is not the nature of the Idea to allow 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 15 

the difference to remain ; but, on the contrary, its nature 
is just to resolve or cancel the difference. God posits 
Himself in this element of difference, but He also 
abolishes it as well. 

When accordingly we attach predicates to God in 
such a way as to make them particular, our first concern 
is to harmonise this contradiction. This is an external 
act, the act of our reflection, and consequently, owing to 
the fact that it is external and takes place in us, and is 
not the content of the Divine Idea, it follows that the 
contradictions cannot be harmonised. The Idea in its 
very nature implies the abolition of the contradiction. 
Its essential content and nature consists in the very fact 
that it posits this difference and cancels it absolutely, 
and this represents the living nature of the Idea itself. 

(6.) In the metaphysical proofs of the existence of 
God, we can see that, in passing from Notion to Being, 
the Notion is not thought of merely as Notion, but as 
existing also, as having reality. It is in connection with 
the standpoint with which we are now dealing, that the 
necessity arises of making the transition' from the Notion 
to Being. 

The divine Notion is the pure Notion, the Notion 
without any limitation whatsoever. The Idea implies 
that the Notion determines itself, and consequently posits 
itself as something different from itself. This is a mo- 
ment or stage of the divine Idea itself, and just because 
the thinking, reflecting spirit has this content before it, 
there arises the necessity for this transition, this forward 
movement. 

The logical element of this transition is contained in 
those so-called proofs. It is within the Notion itself, 
and with the Notion as the starting-point, and, in fact, by 
means of the Notion, that the transition must be made to 
objectivity, to Being, and this in the element of thought. 
This which appears in the form of a subjective necessity 
is content, is the one moment of the divine Idea itself. 



1 6 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

When we say, God has created a world, we imply 
that there has been a transition from the Notion to 
objectivity, only the world is here characterised as 
essentially God's Other, and as being the negation of 
God, outside of God, without God, godless. In so far as 
the world is denned as this Other, the difference does 
not present itself to us as being in the Notion itself or 
as contained in the Notion ; i.e., Being, Objectivity must 
be shown to be in the Notion, must be shown to exist 
in the form of activity, consequence, determination of 
the Notion itself. 

It is thus shown, at the same time, that this is im- 
plicitly the same content, that the necessity for transi- 
tion is seen in the form of the proof of the existence of 
God referred to. In the absolute Idea, in the element of 
thought, God is this purely concrete Universal, i.e., He 
is thought of as positing Himself as an Other, but in 
such a way that this Other is immediately and directly 
characterised as God Himself, and the difference as being 
merely ideal is directly done away with, and does not 
attain to the form of externality, and this just means 
that what has thus been posited as difference has been 
shown to exist in and to be involved in the Notion. 

It is characteristic of the logical sphere in which this 
shows itself that it is the nature of every definite concep- 
tion or notion to annul itself, to be its own contradiction, 
and consequently to appear as its own difference, and 
to posit itself as such. Thus the Notion itself is still 
affected by this element of one-sidedness and finitude, 
and is something subjective ; and the characteristics of the 
Notion, its differences, are posited as ideal merely, and 
do not actually appear in a definite form as differences. 
Such is the Notion which gives itself an objective form. 

When we say God, we speak of Him merely as 
abstract ; or when we say God the Father, the Universal, 
we speak of Him in terms of finite existence merely. 
His infinitude consists just in this, that He does away 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 17 

with this form of abstract universality, of immediacy, 
and in this way difference is posited ; but it is just 
His very nature to abolish this difference. It is con- 
sequently then only that He is truly reality, truth, 
infinitude. 

This Idea is the speculative or philosophical Idea, 
i.e., the rational element, and inasmuch as it is reached by 
thinking, it is the act of thinking upon what is rational. 
Thought which is not speculative, thought which is the 
product of the Understanding, is the thought which does 
not get beyond difference as difference, nor beyond the 
finite and the infinite. Both have an absoluteness attri- 
buted to them, and yet they are thought of as being in 
relation to each other, and as so far constituting a unity, 
and consequently as having in them the element of con- 
tradiction. 

(c.) This speculative Idea stands opposed to the sense 
element in thought and also to the Understanding. It is 
consequently a secret or mystery to the senses and their 
way of looking at things, and to the Understanding also. 
For both it is a /uLixmipiov, i.e., so far as regards what 
is rational in it. The nature of God is indeed not a 
mystery in the ordinary sense of the term, and least 
of all in the Christian religion, for in it God has com- 
municated the knowledge of Himself, He has shown 
what He is, He has revealed Himself; but it is a mys- 
tery for sense-perception, for idea or ordinary thought, 
for the senses and their way of looking at things, and 
for the Understanding. 

Speaking generally, the fundamental characteristic of 
the sensuous is externality, the idea of things as being 
outside of one another. In space the differences are 
contiguous, in time they are successive. Space and 
Time represent the externality in which they exist. 
Thus it is characteristic of the mode of regarding things 
which belongs to the senses, that differences should pre- 
sent themselves as lying outside of one another, 

VOL. III. B 



18 TRIE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Thus, -sense-knowledge is based on the idea that the 
differences have an independent existence and remain 
external to one another. 

Thus, for the senses, w-hat is in the Idea is a mystery, 
for in the region of the Idea, the way in which things 
-are looked at, the relations ascribed to things, and the 
categories employed, are entirely different from what we 
have in the region of sense. The Idea is just this act 
of distinguishing or differentiation which at the same time 
-gives no difference and does not hold to this difference 
as permanent. God beholds Himself in what is differen- 
tiated ; and when in His Other He is united merely with 
Himself, He is there with no other but Himself, He is 
in close union only with Himself, He beholds Himself in 
His Other. 

In connection with the senses we have something 
quite the reverse of this. In sense- knowledge one thing 
is here and another there, each passes for something in- 
dependent, it does not pass for being something which is 
what it is because it finds itself in an Other. In the region 
of sense-knowledge two things cannot be in one and the 
same place ; they are mutually exclusive. 

In the Idea the differences are posited, not as exclusive, 
but as existing only in this mutual inclusion of the one 
by the other. This is the true superseusuous, not the 
ordinary supersensuous, which is regarded as something 
above ; fdr this latter equally belongs to the region of 
the sensuous, in which things are outside of one another 
and indifferent to one another. In so far as God is 
characterised as Spirit, externality is done away with 
and absorbed, and therefore this is a mystery for 
sense. 

This Idea is equally something beyond the grasp of 
the Understanding and is for it a secret, for it is the very 
nature of the Understanding to hold fast by and keep 
unchangeably to the idea that the categories of thought 
are absolutely exclusive and different, and that they 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 19 

remain unalterably independent in relation to each other. 
The Positive is not the same as the Negative, as, for 
example, cause-effect. 

But, so far as the Notion is concerned, it is equally 
true that these differences cancel themselves. It is just 
because they are differences that they remain finite, and 
it is the nature of the Understanding to stick to the 
finite, and even when it is dealing with the Infinite 
itself it has the Infinite on the one side and the finite 
on the other. 

The real truth is that the finite, and the Infinite which 
is put in contrast with the finite, have no true existence, 
but are themselves merely transitory. So far this is a 
secret for the sensuous way of conceiving of things and for 
the Understanding, and they struggle against the element 
of rationality in the Idea. Those who oppose the doc- 
trine of the Trinity are men who are guided merely by 
their senses and understanding. 

The Understanding is equally powerless to grasp the 
meaning of anything else whatever, or to get at the truth 
regarding anything. Animal life also exists as Idea, as 
a unity of the notion or conception of the soul and bodily 
form. For the Understanding each of these exists for 
itself. They are undoubtedly different, but it is equally 
their nature to abolish this difference. Life is simply 
this perennial process. What has life exists ; it has 
impulses, needs, and consequently it has within itself 
difference, and this originates within it. There thus 
comes to be a contradiction, and the Understanding takes 
these differences as implying that the contradiction does 
not cancel itself; when they are brought into relation 
with each other nothing exists but just the contradiction, 
which cannot be cancelled. 

The contradiction is there; it cannot cease to exist if 
the elements of difference are held to be perennial elements 
of difference, just because it is the fact of this difference 
that is insisted upon. "What has life has certain needs, 



20 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and thus involves a contradiction, but the satisfaction of 
these is the removal of the contradiction. 

In the case of impulse, in the presence of any need, I 
am distinguished from myself, and this within myself. 
But life just means the harmonising of the contradiction, 
the satisfying of the need, the attainment of peace, in 
such a way, however, that a contradiction springs up 
again. What we have is the alternation of the act of 
differentiation or contradiction, and of the removal of the 
contradiction. 

The two are different in point of time, the element of 
succession is present in connection with them, and they 
are on that account finite. Here, too, the Understanding, 
in considering impulse and the satisfaction of impulse by 
themselves, fails to grasp the truth that in the very act 
of affirmation, in the very feeling of self, there is at the 
same time contained the negation of the feeling of self, 
limitation, defect, and yet I as having this feeling of self 
at once pass beyond this element of defect. 

This is the ordinary definite idea of a pva-ri'ipiov. A 
mystery is also described as the incomprehensible ; but 
it is just the Notion itself, the speculative element in 
thought, which is described as incomprehensible, the 
fact that what is rational is stated in terms of thought. 
It is just by means of thought that the element of dif- 
ference is definitely developed. 

The thinking of the impulse is merely the analysis of 
what the impulse is ; the affirmation and the negation 
involved in it, the feeling of self, the satisfaction of the 
impulse and the impulse. To think it is just to recog- 
nise the element of difference which is in it. When, 
accordingly, the Understanding gets so far, it says : this is 
a contradiction, and it remains at this point, it holds by 
the contradiction in face of experience, which teaches that 
life itself just means the removal of the contradiction. 

Thus, when the impulse is analysed, the contradiction 
comes to light, and then it can be said : impulse is some- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 21 

thing incomprehensible. The nature of God is equally 
something incomprehensible. This Incomprehensible is 
really nothing but the Notion itself, which involves the 
power of differentiation, and the Understanding does not 
get beyond the fact of the existence of the difference. 

Thus it says : this cannot be comprehended ; for the 
principle of the Understanding is abstract self-identity, 
and not concrete identity, according to which these dif- 
ferences exist in something which is one. For the Under- 
standing God is the One, the Essence of Essences. This 
empty identity without difference is the false representa- 
tion of God given by the Understanding and by modern 
theology. God is Spirit, what gives itself an objective 
form and knows itself in that. This is concrete identity, 
and thus the Idea is also an essential moment. According 
to the idea of abstract identity, on the other hand, the 
One and the Other exist independently, each for itself, 
and are at the same time related to each other, and 
therefore we get a contradiction. 

This, then, is what is called the incomprehensible. 
The cancelling or resolution of the contradiction is the 
Notion; the Understanding does not get the length of 
the cancelling of the contradiction, because it starts with 
the presupposition of its existence ; for it the two sides 
which form the contradiction are and remain in a state 
of mutual independence. 

One reason why it is said that the Divine Idea is 
incomprehensible is that, since religion, the truth, exists 
for all men, the content of the Idea appears in a sen- 
suous form, or in the form of something which can be 
grasped by the Understanding. It appears, we repeat, 
in a sensuous form, and so we have the expressions 
Father and Son descriptive of a relation which exists in 
the sphere of life, a designation which has been adopted 
from what is seen in the sense-life. 

In religion the truth is revealed in accordance with 
the content ; but it is something different for it to appear 



22 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

in the form of the Notion, of thought, or as the Notion 
in a speculative form. However happily expressed those 
nai've forms, such as begetting, son, &c., given to faith, 
may be, whenever the Understanding takes them in hand 
and applies its categories to them, they are at once per- 
verted, and whenever it is in the mood it does not cease 
to point out the contradictions involved in them. It 
gets the power and the right to do this from the differen- 
tiation and reflection into themselves which exist in these 
forms. But it is just God or Spirit who Himself abolishes 
these contradictions. He does not require to wait for 
the Understanding to remove those characteristics which 
contain contradiction. It is just the very nature of 
Spirit to remove them ; and so, too, it belongs essen- 
tially to Spirit to posit these characteristics, to make dis- 
tinctions within itself, to bring about this separation or 
diremption. 

When, again, we say that the idea of God in His 
eternal universality implies that He differentiates Him- 
self, determines Himself, posits something that is His 
Other or object, and at the same time abolishes the dif- 
ference, is not outside of Himself in the difference, and 
is Spirit only through what He thus accomplishes, then 
we get another example of how the Understanding treats 
the question. It takes up this thought, brings its cate- 
gories of finitude to bear upon it, counts one, two, three, 
and introduces into it the unfortunate category of number. 
Here, however, we have nothing to do with number ; 
numeration is something which implies utter absence of 
thought, and if we introduce this category here we intro- 
duce the element of incomprehensibility. 

It is possible in the exercise of Reason to make use 
of all the categories of the Understanding which imply 
relation. Reason, however, does not only use them, it 
destroys them, and so, too, here. This is indeed hard for 
the Understanding, since it imagines that because they 
have been made use of they have won some kind of right 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 23 

to exist. They are, however, misused when, as here, they 
are used in connection with the expression, three are 
one. It is accordingly easy to point out that there are 
contradictions in such ideas, differences which get the 
length of being opposites, and the sterile Understanding 
prides itself on amassing these. In all that is concrete, 
in all that has life, this contradiction is involved, as has 
been already shown. It is only the dead Understanding 
that is self-identical. In the Idea, on the other hand, we 
see the contradiction cancelled as well, and it is just this 
cancelling or harmonising which is spiritual unity. 

To enumerate the moments of the Idea as three units 
appears to be- something quite ingenuous and natural, 
and which does not require to be explained. Only, in 
accordance with the nature of number, which is here 
introduced into the matter, each characteristic gets a 
fixed form as one, and we are required to conceive of three 
units as only one unit, a demand which it is extremely 
hard to entertain, and which is, as is sometimes said, an 
utterly irrational demand. 

It is the Understanding alone that is always haunted 
by this idea of the absolute independence of the unit or 
One, this idea of absolute separation and rupture. If, on 
the contrary, we regard the matter from the point of view 
of logic, we see that the One has an inner dialectic move- 
ment, and is not truly independent. It is only necessary 
to think of matter which is the true One or unity that 
offers resistance, but which is subject to the law of gravi- 
tation, i.e., it makes an effort not to be one, and rather 
to do away with its state of independence, and thus con- 
fesses that this is a nullity. In fact, just because it is 
only matter, and continues to be the most external exter- 
nality, it remains in the condition merely of something 
which ought to be. Matter as such is the poorest, most 
external, most unspiritual mode of existence ; but it is 
gravitation, or the abolition of the oneness, which consti- 
tutes the fundamental characteristic of matter. 



24 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The idea of a unit or a One is, to begin with, something 
wholly abstract ; these units get a still deeper meaning 
when they are expressed in terms of Spirit since they are 
characterised as persons. Personality is something which 
is essentially based on freedom, freedom in its first, deepest, 
most inward form, but also in its most abstract form as 
the freedom which proclaims its presence in the subject 
by saying, I am a person, I exist for myself. This is 
isolation pure and simple, a condition of pure reserve. 

When, therefore, these differences are defined thus, and 
each is taken as a unit, or in fact as a person, owing 
to the infinite form according to which each moment is 
regarded as a subject, the difficulty of satisfying the 
demand of the Idea that these differences should be 
regarded as differences which are not different, but are 
purely one, and that this difference should be abolished, 
appears to be still more insurmountable. 

Two cannot be one ; each person has a rigid, reserved, 
independent, self-centred existence. Logic shows that 
the category of the unit is a poor category, a wholly 
abstract unit. But when we are dealing with personality, 
the contradiction seems to be pushed so far as to be 
incapable of any solution ; still the solution is contained 
in the fact that there is only one person, and this three- 
fold personality, this personality which is consequently 
posited merely as a vanishing moment, expresses the 
truth that the antithesis is an absolute one, and is not 
to be taken as an inferior antithesis, and that it is just 
exactly when it has got to this point it abolishes itself. 
It is, in short, the nature or character of what we mean by 
person or subject to abolish its isolation, its separateness. 

Morality, love, just mean the giving up of particularity 
or of the particular personality and its extension to uni- 
versality, and so, too, is it with the family and friend- 
ship, for there you have the identity of the one with 
the other. Inasmuch as I act rightly towards another, I 
consider him as identical with myself. In friendship and 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 25 

love I give up my abstract personality, and in this way ~ 
win it back as concrete personality. 

It is just this winning back of personality by the act 
of absorption, by the being absorbed into the other, which 
constitutes the true nature of personality. Such forms 
of the Understanding directly prove themselves in experi- 
ence to be of those which annul themselves. 

In love, in friendship, it is the person or individual 
who maintains himself, and by means of love gets the 
subjectivity which is his personality. If here, in con- 
nection with religion, the idea of personality is clung to 
in an abstract way, then we get three Gods, and the 
infinite form, absolute negativity is forgotten, or if per- 
sonality is regarded as not cancelled, then we have evil, 
for personality which does not yield itself up to the 
absolute Idea is evil. In the divine unity personality is ^ 
held to be cancelled, and it is only in appearance that 
the negativity of personality is distinguished from that 
whereby it is done away with. 

The Trinity has been reduced to a relation of Father, 
Son, and Spirit, and this is a childlike relation, a child- 
like natural form. The Understanding has no category, 
no relation which in point of suitability for expressing the 
truth can be compared with this. At the same time it 
must be understood that it is merely pictorial, and that 
Spirit does not actually enter into a relation of this kind. 
Love would be a still more suitable expression, but Spirit 
is the really true one. 

The abstract God, the Father, is the Universal, the 
eternal, all - embracing, total particularity. We have 
reached the stage of Spirit ; here the Universal includes 
everything within itself; the Other, the Son, is infinite 
particularity, manifestation ; the third, the Spirit, is indi- 
viduality as such. The Universal, however, as totality is 
itself Spirit ; all three are Spirit. In the third, God is 
Spirit, we say, but He is presupposed to be this as well, 
and the third is also the first. This is a truth which 



26 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

must be held to as essential. When, for instance, W3 
say that God, in accordance with His conception or 
notion, is potentially the immediate Power which differ- 
entiates itself and returns to itself, it is implied that He 
is this only as being negativity which is immediately 
related to itself, i.e., as absolute reflection into self, which 
is just the characteristic of Spirit. Should we, accord- 
ingly, wish to speak of God as presented in His first 
determination, in accordance with His Notion, and should 
we wish to go on from this to the other determinations, 
we are already speaking of the third ; the last is the first. 
When, in order to avoid this, and if we begin in an 
abstract way, we speak of the first only in accordance 
with its own determination, or when the imperfection 
of the notion renders it necessary to do this, then the 
first is the Universal, and that activity, that begetting or 
creating, is already a principle distinct from the abstract- 
Universal, which thus appears and can appear as a second 
principle, as something which manifests itself, externalises 
itself {Logos, Sophia), just as the first exists as the abyss 
of Being. This is made clear by the nature of the 
Notion itself. It comes to the front in connection with 
every end and with every manifestation of life. Life 
maintains itself; to maintain or preserve means to pass 
into difference, into the struggle with particularity, means 
that something finds itself to be distinct from inorganic 
nature. Life is thus only a resultant inasmuch as it 
has brought itself into being, is a product which in turn 
produces ; what is thus produced is itself living, i.e., it is 
its own presupposition, it passes through its process, and 
nothing new comes out of this ; what is produced was 
already there from the beginning. The same holds true 
of love and reciprocal love. In so far as love exists, it is 
the beginning, and all action is merely its confirmation by 
which it is at once produced and nourished. But what is 
produced already exists, it is confirmation of the presence 
of love, since nothing comes out of it but what is already 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 27 

there. In the same way Spirit presupposes itself, it is 
what begins. 

The differentiation through which the Divine Life 
passes is not of an external kind, but must be defined 
as an inward differentiation in such a way that the First, 
or the Father, is to be conceived of as the Last. The 
process is thus nothing but the play of self-preservation 
or self-confirmation. This characteristic is of importance 
in this respect that it constitutes the criterion by which 
to estimate the value of many of the popular conceptions 
of God, and by which what is defective in them can be 
detected and criticised, and it is specially owing to the 
presence of that defective element that this characteristic 
is often overlooked or misunderstood. 

We are considering the Idea in its universality, as it 
exists in pure thought, and as defined by means of pure 
thought. This Idea is all truth and the one truth, and 
consequently everything particular which is to be con- 
ceived of as true must be conceived of in accordance with 
the Form of this Idea. 

Nature and the finite spirit are a product of God, and 
therefore possess rationality. The fact that they have 
been made by God involves their having truth in them- 
selves, divine truth in general, i.e., the characteristic of 
this Idea considered generally. 

The Form of this Idea exists in God only as Spirit ; if 
the Divine Idea exists in those forms which belong to 
finitude, it is not in that case posited in its true and 
entire nature, in-and-for-self ; it is only in Spirit that it 
is so posited. In these finite forms it exists in a finite 
way ; but the world is something which has been produced 
by God, and therefore the Divine Idea always constitutes 
its basis if we consider it in a general aspect. To kuow 
the truth regarding anything just means to know it and 
define it in accordance with the form of this Idea. 

In the earlier religions, particularly in the religion of 
India, we have ideas which are in accord with that of the 



28 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Trinity as the true determination. This idea of threefold- 
ness was actually consciously reached, the idea that the 
One cannot continue to exist as One and has not the 
true form it ought to have, that the One does not repre- 
sent the truth except as it appears in the form of move- 
ment, of difference in general, and as standing in relation 
to some other. Trimurti is the rudest form in which 
this determination appears. 

The third is not, however, Spirit, is not true reconcilia- 
tion, but origination and decay, change in fact, a category 
which is a unity of these differences, but represents a 
union of a very subordinate kind. 

It is not in immediate Appearance or manifestation, 
but only when Spirit has taken up its abode in the 
Church, when it is immediate, believing Spirit, and raises 
itself to the stage of thought, that the Idea reaches per- 
fection. We are interested in considering the workings 
or ferment of this Idea, and in learning to recognise what 
lies at the basis of the marvellous manifestations which 
occur. The definition of God as the Three-in-One is one 
which, so far as philosophy is concerned, has quite ceased 
to be used, and in theology it is no longer seriously 
adopted. In fact, in certain quarters an attempt has 
been made to belittle the Christian religion by maintain- 
ing that this definition which it employs is already older 
than Christianity, and that it has got it from somewhere 
or other. But, to begin with, any such historical state- 
ment does not for that matter of it decide anything 
whatsoever with regard to the inner truth. It must, 
moreover, be understood, too, that those peoples and 
individuals of former ages were not themselves conscious 
of the truth which was in the idea, and did not perceive 
that it contained the absolute consciousness of the truth ; 
they regarded it as merely one amongst other character- 
istics, and as different from the others. But it is a point 
of the greatest importance to determine whether such a 
characteristic is the first and absolute characteristic which 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 29 

underlies all others, or whether it is just one form which 
appears amongst others, as, for instance, in the case of 
Brahma, who is the One, but is not at the same time 
an object of worship. This form has certainly the least 
chance of appearing in the Eeligion of Beauty and in that 
of External Utility. In the multiplicity and particulari- 
sation which are characteristic of these religions, it is not 
possible to meet with the element of measure which 
limits itself and returns to itself. Still they are not 
devoid of traces of this unity. Aristotle, speaking of 
the Pythagorean numbers, of the triad, says : We believe 
that we have really called on the gods only when we 
have called on them three times. Amongst the Pytha- 
goreans and in Plato we come upon the abstract basis of 
the Idea, but the characteristics do not in any way get 
beyond this condition of abstraction, and partly continue 
in the abstract state represented by one, two, three ; 
though in Plato they get a rather more concrete form, 
where we have described the nature of the One and the 
Other, that which is different in itself, Oarepov, and the 
third which is the unity of both. 

The thought here is not of the fanciful kind which we 
have in thelndian religions, but is rather a mere abstraction. 
We have actual categories of thought which are better than 
numbers, better than the category of number, but which, 
all the same, are entirely abstract categories of thought. 

It is, however, chiefly about the time of Christ's birth, 
and during several centuries after, that we come upon a 
philosophical representation of this truth in a figurative 
form, and which has for its basis the popular idea ex- 
pressed by the Trinity. It is found partly in philosophical 
systems pure and simple, such as that of Philo, who had 
carefully studied Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy, 
and then in the later writers of the Alexandrian School, 
but more especially in a blending of the Christian religion 
with philosophical ideas of the kind referred to, and it 
is this blending of the two which constitutes in a large 



30 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

measure the various heresies, particularly the Gnostic 
heresy. Speaking generally, we see in these attempts to 
grasp the Idea of the Three-in-One, the reality which 
characterises Western thought refined away into an 
intellectual world through the influence of Eastern 
idealism. These are, to be sure, only first attempts 
resulting in what were merely paltry and fantastic con- 
ceptions. Still we can see in them at least the struggle 
of Spirit to reach truth, and this deserves recognition. 

An almost countless number of forms of stating the 
truth may be observed here ; the First is, the Father, the 
"Ov, terms which express something which is the abyss 
or depths of Being, i.e., something, in fact, which is as yet 
empty, which cannot be grasped by thought, but is in- 
comprehensible and beyond the power of any conception 
to express. 

For what is empty, indeterminate, is undoubtedly the 
Incomprehensible, the negative of the Notion, and it is 
the nature of its notion to be this negative since it is 
merely one-sided abstraction, and constitutes what is 
merely a moment of the Notion. The One for itself, is 
not yet the Notion, the True. 

If the First is defined as the merely Universal, and if 
the definitions or determinations are simply referred to 
the Universal, to the ov, then we certainly get the incom- 
prehensible, for it is without content ; anything compre- 
hensible is concrete, and can >be comprehended only in 
so far as it is determined as a moment. And it is in 
this that tlte defect lies, namely, that the First is not 
conceived of as being by its very nature totality. 

Another idea of the same kind is expressed when it is 
said that the First is the fivOds, the Abyss, the depths, 
aia>v, the Eternal, whose dwelling is in the inexpressible 
heights, who is raised above all contact with finite things, 
out of whom 'nothing is evolved, the First Principle, the 
Father of all existence, the Propator, who is a Father 
only mediately, the Trpoap^, He who was before the be- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 31 

ginning. The revelation of this abyss of Being, of this 
hidden God, is defined as self-contemplation, reflection 
into self, concrete determination in general ; self-contem- 
plation begets, it is, in fact, the begetting of the Only- 
begotten ; this represents the fact that the Eternal is in 
process of being comprehended, because here we get the 
length of determination. 

This Second, Other-Being or object, determination, 
action in short as shown in self-determination, is the 
most general determination, as it appears in the form of 
the Xo'yo?, the activity which determines itself after the 
manner of reason, known also as the Word. The Word 
is this simple self-expression which does not make any 
hard and fast distinction, and does not become a hard 
and fast distinction, but is taken in an immediate sense, 
and which being thus immediate is taken up into the 
inner life of the Eternal, and returns to its original source. 
It is further expressed by the word o-otpia, Wisdom, the 
original Man in the absolute purity of his Being, some- 
thing which actually exists, and is other than that first 
universality in short, a particular something with a de- 
finite character. God is the 'Creator, and He is this in 
His specific character as the Logos, as the self-externalis- 
ing, self-expressing Word, as the opatrt?, the vision of God. 

This Second came to be further defined as the arche- 
type of Man, Adam Kadmon, the Only-begotten. This 
does not describe some accidental 'characteristic, but, on 
the contrary, eternal action, which is not confined simply 
to one time. In God there is only one birth, activity in 
the form of eternal activity, a characteristic which essen- 
tially belongs to the Universal itself. 

Here we have the true differentiation or distinction 
which has reference to the quality of both, but this 
quality is only one and the same Substance, and the 
difference is accordingly merely superficial as yet even 
when defined as a person. 

The essential point is that this (ro<p[a, the Only- 



32 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

begotten, remains likewise in the bosom of God, and the 
distinction is no real distinction. 

It was in forms such as these that the Idea showed its 
workings. The most important point of view from which 
to regard the matter is that which will enable us to see 
that, however rude were the shapes taken by these 
thoughts, they are to be considered as rational, and from 
which we shall perceive that they are based on reason, 
and discover what amount of reason is in them. Still it 
is necessary at the same time to be able to distinguish 
the form of rationality which is present, and which is not 
yet adequate to express content. 

This Idea is usually put somewhere beyond Man, 
beyond thought and reason, and forms an antithesis to 
these, so that this characteristic, which is all truth, and 
alone is truth, comes to be regarded as something peculiar 
to God only, something which remains in a region beyond 
human life, and does not reflect itself into its Other, 
which appears in the form of the world, Nature, Man. 
So far this fundamental idea is not regarded as the Uni- 
versal Idea. 

To Jacob Bohme this mystery of the threefold nature 
became clear in another fashion. His way of conceiving 
of the truth, and his style of thought, are certainly of a 
rather wild and fantastic sort. He did not attain to the 
use of the pure forms of thought, but the ruling and fun- 
damental principle of all the ideas which fermented in his 
mind, and of all his struggles to reach the truth, was the 
recognition of the presence of Trinity everywhere and 
in everything, as, e.g., when he says, " It must be born 
in the heart of Man." 

It forms the universal basis of everything which is 
looked at in a true way, it may indeed be as finite, 
but still as something which even in its finitude has the 
truth in it. Thus Jacob Bohme attempted to represent 
under this category Nature and the heart or spirit of Man. 

In more recent times the conception of Trinity has, 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 33 

through the influence of the Kantian philosophy, been 
brought into notice again in an outward way as a type, 
and, as it were, as a ground-plan of thought, and this 
in very definite forms of thought. "When this Idea is 
thus known to represent what is the one and essential 
nature of God, the next step is to cease to regard it as 
something belonging to a region above human thought 
and beyond this world, and to feel that the goal of know- 
ledge is the recognition of the truth in the Particular as 
well, and if it is thus recognised as present in it, then all 
that is true in the Particular involves this determination. 
To know in the philosophical sense, means to know 
anything in its determinateness. Its nature, however, 
is just the nature of the determinateness itself, and it 
is unfolded in the Idea. Logical exposition and logical 
necessity mean that this Idea represents truth in general, 
and that all thought-determinations can be reduced to 
this movement of determination. 



II. 

THE ETERNAL IDEA OF GOD IN THE ELEMENT OF CON- 
SCIOUSNESS AND ORDINARY THOUGHT ( VORSTELLEN), 
OR, DIFFERENCE ; THE KINGDOM OF THE SON. 

We have here to consider how this Idea passes out of 
its condition of universality and infinity into the deter- 
mination or specific form of finitude. God is everywhere 
present, and the presence of God is just the element of 
truth which is in everything. 

To begin with, the Idea was found in the element of 
thought. This forms the basis, and we started with it. 
The Universal, and what is consequently the more 
abstract, must precede all else in scientific knowledge. 
Looking at the matter from a scientific point of view, it 
is what comes first, though actually it is what comes 
later, so far as its existence in a definite form is con- 

VOL. in. c 



34 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

cerned. It is what is potential and essential, but it is 
what appears later in knowledge, and reaches the stage 
of consciousness and knowledge later. 

The Form of the Idea actually appears as a result 
which, however, is essentially potentiality ; and just as 
the content of the Idea means that the last is the first 
and the first is the last, so what appears as a result is 
the presupposition, potentiality, basis. This Idea is now 
to be considered as it appears in the second element, in 
the element of manifestation in general. In its form as 
objectivity, or as potential, the absolute Idea is complete; 
but this is not the case with the Idea in its subjective 
aspect, either in itself as such, or when subjectivity 
actually appears in the Divine Idea. The progress of 
the Idea here referred to may be looked at from two 
sides. 

Looking at it from the first of these, we see that the 
subject for which this Idea exists is the thinking subject. 
Even the forms used by ordinary conception do not take 
anything from the nature of the fundamental form, nor 
hinder this fundamental form from being for man a form 
characterised by thought. The subject, speaking generally, 
exists as something which thinks, it thinks this Idea, and 
yet it is concrete self-consciousness. This Idea must 
exist for the subject as concrete self-consciousness, as an 
actual subject. 

Or it may be put thus the Idea in its first form is 
the absolute truth, while in its subjective form it exists 
for thought ; but not only must the Idea be truth for the 
subject, the subject on its part must have the certainty 
of the Idea, i.e., the certainty which belongs to this sub- 
ject as such, as finite, as a subject which is empirical, 
concrete, and belonging to the sphere of sense. 

The Idea possesses certainty for the subject, and the 
subject has this certainty only in so far as the Idea is 
actually perceived, in so far as it exists for the subject. 
If I can say of anything, " that is," then it possesses 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 35 

certainty for me, this is immediate knowledge, this is 
certainty. The next form of mediation consists in 
proving that what is is likewise necessary, that it is 
true, that it is something certain. This accordingly is 
the transition to the Universal. 

By starting from the form of truth, we have reached 
the definite thought that this form possesses certainty, 
that it exists for me. 

The other mode of viewing the advance of the Idea to 
manifestation is to regard it from the side of the Idea 
itself. 

i. Eternal Being, in-and-for-itself, is something which 
unfolds itself, determines itself, differentiates itself, posits 
itself as its own difference, but the difference, again, is at 
the same time eternally done away with and absorbed ; 
what has essential Being, Being in-and-for-itself, eternally 
returns to itself in this, and only in so far as it does this 
is it Spirit. 

What is differentiated is determined in such a way that 
the difference directly disappears, and so, that this is seen 
to be a relation of God merely to Himself, of the Idea 
merely to itself. This act of differentiation is merely a 
movement, a playing of love with itself, in which it does 
not get to be otherness or Other-Being in any serious sense, 
nor actually reach a condition of separation and division. 

The Other is defined as the Son, as love regarded from 
the side of feeling, or, defined from a higher point of 
view, as Spirit which is not outside of itself, which is 
with itself, which is free. In this determination, the 
determination of difference is not yet complete so far as 
the Idea is concerned. What we have here is merely 
abstract difference in general, we have not yet got to 
difference in the form which peculiarly belongs to it ; 
difference here is only one characteristic or determina- 
tion amongst others. 

In this respect we can say that we have not yet got 
the length of difference. The things differentiated are 



36 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

considered to be the same ; we have not yet reached that 
determination according to which the things differentiated 
should have a different determination. Eegarded from 
this side, we have to think of the judgment or differen- 
tiating act of the Idea as implying that the Son gets the 
determination of the Other as such, that He exists as a 
free personality, independently or for Himself, that He 
appears as something real outside of and apart from God, 
as something, in fact, which actually is. 

His ideality, His eternal return into essential Being, is 
posited in the Idea in its first form as immediate and 
identical. In order that there may be difference, and in 
order that it may be properly recognised, it is necessary 
to have the element of Otherness, necessary that what is 
thus distinguished should appear as Otherness which is 
possessed of Being. 

It is only the absolute Idea which determines itself, 
and which, in determining itself, is inwardly certain that 
it is absolutely free in itself ; and in thus determining 
itself it implies that what is thus determined is allowed 
to exist as something which is free, as something in- 
dependent, as an independent object. The Free exists 
only for the Free, and it is only for free men that an 
other is free too. 

The absolute freedom of the Idea means that in deter- 
mining itself, in the act of judgment, or differentiation, it 
grants the free independent existence of the Other. This 
Other, as something thus allowed to have an independent 
existence, is represented by the World taken in a general 
sense. The absolute act of judgment which gives inde- 
pendence to that aspect of Being called Other-Being 
might also be called Goodness, which bestows upon this 
side of Being in its state of estrangement the whole Idea, 
in so far as and in the way in which it is able to receive 
and represent the Idea. 

2. The truth of the world is its ideality only, and does 
not imply that it possesses true reality ; it is involved in its 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 37 

nature that it should be, but only in an ideal sense ; it is 
not something implicitly eternal, but, on the contrary, it 
is something created, its Being is something which has 
been merely posited, or is dependent on something else. 

The Being of the world means that it has a moment 
of Being, but that it annuls this separation and estrange- 
ment from God, and that it is its true nature to return 
to its source, to get into a relationship of Spirit or Love. 

We thus get the Process of the world which implies 
a passing from the state of revolt and separation to that 
of reconciliation. What first appears in the Idea is 
merely the relation of Father and Son ; but the Other also 
comes to have the characteristic of Other-Being or other- 
ness, of something which is. 

It is in the Sou, in the determination or specifying 
of the difference, that an advance is made to further 
specification in the form of more differences, and that 
difference gets its rights, the right of being different. 
Jacob Bohme described this transition in the stage repre- 
sented by the Son as follows : The first and Only-begotten 
was Lucifer, the light-bearer, clearness, brightness, but 
he imaged himself in himself, i.e., posited au indepen- 
dent existence for himself, advanced to a condition of 
Being, and so to a state of revolt, and that then the 
eternal and Only-begotten was immediately put in his 
place. 

Eegarded from the first of the two standpoints, the 
relation is that God exists in His eternal truth, and this 
is thought of as the state of things which existed before 
time was, as the state in which God was when the 
blessed spirits and the morning stars, the angels, His 
children, sang His praises. The relation thus existing is 
described as a state, but it is an eternal relation of 
thought to its object. Later on a revolt occurred, as it is 
expressed, and this is the positing of the second stand- 
point, the one side of the truth represented by the 
analysis of the Son, the keeping apart of the two 



38 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

moments which are contained in Him." The other side, 
again, is represented by subjective consciousness, the finite 
spirit, and this as pure thought is regarded as implicitly 
the Process which found its starting-point in the Imme- 
diate, and raised itself to the condition of truth. This is 
the second form. 

We thus enter the sphere of determination, enter space 
and the world of finite Spirit. This may be more de- 
finitely expressed as a positing or bringing into view of 
the determinations or specific qualities, as a difference 
which is momentarily maintained ; it is an act of going 
out on the part of God into finitude, an act of manifesta- 
tion in finitude, for finitude taken in its proper meaning, 
implies simply the separation of what is implicitly 
identical, but which maintains itself in the act of 
separation. Regarded from the other side, that of sub- 
jective Spirit, this is posited as pure thought, though it 
is implicitly a result, and this has to be posited as it is 
potentially in its character as the movement of thought, 
or, to put it otherwise, pure thought has to go into itself, 
and it is in this way that it first posits itself as finite. 

Regarding the matter from this standpoint, this Other 
is not represented by the Son, but by the external world, 
the finite world, which is outside of truth, the world of 
finitude, in which the Other has the form of Being, and 
is yet in its nature merely the erepov, the definite, the 
differentiated, the limited, the negative. 

The relation of these two spheres to the first may thus 
be defined by saying that it is the same Idea potentially 
which is present, though with this different specific form. 
The absolute act involved in that first judgment or act of 
differentiation is implicitly the same as the second here 
referred to ; it is only in ordinary thought that the two 
are regarded as separate, as two absolutely distinct spheres 
and acts. 

And,as a matter of fact, they have to be distinguished and 
kept separate ; and when it is said that they are implicitly 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 39 

the same, we must carefully define the sense in which 
this is to be understood, else we may get a false meaning 
and an incorrect conception, implying that the eternal 
Son of the Father, the Godhead who exists objectively 
for Himself, is the same as the world, and that we are 
to understand by the former nothing more than what we 
mean by the latter. 

It has been already remarked, and is, indeed, self- 
evident, that it is only the Idea of God as previously 
unfolded in what was called the first sphere which is the 
true and eternal God, while His higher realisation and 
manifestation in the detailed process of Spirit is what 
is treated of in the third sphere. 

When the world in its immediate form is taken as 
something which has an essential existence of its own, 
and when the sensuous and the temporal are regarded as 
having Being, then either the false meaning before re- 
ferred to is attached to what is thus predicated of them, or 
else we are, at the very outset, forced to think of there 
being two eternal acts on the part of God. God's active 
working, however, is emphatically one and the same, and 
does not show itself in manifold forms of varying ac- 
tivity, such as is expressed by the terms now, after, 
separate, &c. 

Thus this differentiation when it takes the form of 
independence is merely the negative moment of Other- 
Being in an independent form or for itself, or of Being 
external to itself, which as such has no truth, but is 
merely a stage, and regarded from the point of time is 
merely a moment, and not even a moment, but some- 
thing which possesses this kind of independence only as 
contrasted with finite Spirit, inasmuch as it itself as 
actually existing represents this kind and mode of in- 
dependence. In God Himself this Now, this independent 
existence or Being-for-self, is the vanishing moment of 
manifestation. 

This moment certainly now has the extension, breadth, 



40 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and depth which belong to a world ; it is heaven and 
earth, with all their infinite organisation, internal and 
external. When, accordingly, we say that the Other is 
a vanishing moment ; that it is merely the gleam of the 
lightning-flash, which, in appearing, directly disappears ; 
that it is the sound of a word, which, in being spoken 
and heard, disappears so far as its outward existence is 
concerned we are very apt, when we think of things 
of this transitory sort, to have always before our minds 
the idea of the momentary in time, with its before and 
after, and yet it is in neither of the two. "What we have 
really got to do is to get rid of that time-determination, 
whether it be of duration or of the present, and merely 
to keep to the simple thought of the Other, the simple 
thought, for the Other is an abstraction. That this 
abstraction has actually taken an extended form in the 
world of space and time is explained by the fact that it 
is the simple moment of the Idea itself, and accordingly 
receives the Idea wholly into itself; but because it is the 
moment of otherness or Other- Being it takes the form 
of immediate, material extension. 

Questions as to whether the world or matter is eternal, 
and has existed from all eternity, or has begun in time, 
belong to the empty metaphysics of the Understanding. 
In the phrase " from all eternity," eternity itself is repre- 
sented in a figurative way as infinite time, in accordance 
with a false kind of infinitude, the infinitude and the 
determination being those of Reflection merely. It is 
the world which is really the region of contradiction ; 
in it the Idea appears in a specialised form which is 
inadequate to express it. As soon as the world enters 
into the region of ordinary thought or figurative idea, 
the element of time comes in, and next, by means of re- 
flection, the infinitude or eternity referred to. We must, 
however, understand that this characteristic in no way 
applies to the Notion itself. 

Another question, or what is partly the same question 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 41 

with a broader meaning, is raised when it is said that 
the world or matter, inasmuch as it is regarded as having 
existed from all eternity, is uncreated and exists imme- 
diately for itself. The separation made by the Under- 
standing between form and matter lies at the basis 
of this statement ; while the real truth is that matter 
and the world, regarded according to their fundamental 
characteristics, are this Other, the negative, which is 
itself simply a moment or element of posited Being. 
This is the opposite of something independent, and the 
meaning of its existence is simply that it annuls itself 
and is a moment in the Process. The natural world 
is relative, it is Appearance, i.e., it is this not only for us, 
but implicitly, and it belongs to its quality or character 
to pass over and return into the ultimate Idea. It is in 
the determination of the independence of Other-Being 
that all the various metaphysical determinations given 
to the v\n amongst the ancients, and also amongst those 
Christians who indulged in philosophical speculations, 
the Gnostics particularly, have their root. 

It is owing to the otherness or Other-Being of the 
world that this latter is simply something created and 
has not a complete and independent Being, Being in-and- 
for-itself, and when a distinction is drawn between the 
beginning as creation and the preservation of what 
actually exists, this is done in accordance with the 
ordinary conception which implies that such a material 
world is actually present and is possessed of real Being. 
It has always been correctly held that since the world 
does not possess Being, an independence belonging to it 
in virtue of its own nature, preservation is a kind of 
creation. But if we can say that creation is also 
preservation, we would express ourselves thus merely in 
virtue of the fact that the moment of Other-Being is 
itself a moment of the Idea, or else it would be 
presupposed, as was done previously, that something 
possessed of Being preceded the act of creation. 



42 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Thus inasmuch as Other-Being has been characterised 
as the totality of appearance or manifestation, it expresses 
in itself the Idea, and it is this which is really designated 
by the term, the wisdom of God. Wisdom is, however, 
so far a general expression, and it is the business of 
philosophical knowledge to understand this conception 
in Nature, to conceive of it as a system in which the 
Divine Idea is mirrored. This Idea is manifested, but 
its content is just the manifestation, and consists in its 
distinguishing itself as an Other, and then taking back 
this Other into itself, so that the expression taking 
back applies equally to what is done outside and inside. 
In Nature these stages break up into a system of king- 
doms of Nature, of which that of living things is the 
highest. 

Life, however, the highest form in which the Idea 
exhibits itself in Nature, is simply something which 
sacrifices itself and whose essence is to become Spirit, 
and this act of sacrifice is the negativity of the Idea 
as against its existence in this form. Spirit is just 
this act of advance into reality by means of Nature, 
i.e., Spirit finds its antithesis, or opposite, in Nature, 
and it is by the annulling of this opposition that it 
exists for itself and is Spirit. 

The finite world is the side of the difference which is 
put in contrast with the side which remains in its unity ; 
and thus it breaks up into the natural world and into 
the world of finite Spirit. Nature enters into a relation 
with Man only, and not on its own account into a re- 
lation with God, for Nature is not knowledge ; God is 
Spirit, but Nature knows nothing of Spirit. 

Nature has been created by God, but she does not 
of herself enter into a relation with God, by which is 
meant that she is not possessed of knowledge. She 
stands in a relation to Man only, and in this relation 
to Man she represents what is called the side of his 
dependence. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 43 

Tn so far as she is known by thought to have been 
created by God, and to have understanding and reason 
in her, she is consciously known by Man as a thinking 
being ; and she is put in relation with the Divine to the 
extent to which her truth or true nature is recognised. 
The discussion of the manifold forms expressive of the 
relation of the finite spirit to Nature does not belong to 
the philosophy of religion. Their scientific treatment 
forms part of the Phenomenology of Spirit, or the 
Doctrine of Spirit. Here this relation has to be con- 
sidered in so far as it comes within the sphere of religion, 
and in such a way as to show that Nature is for Man 
not only the actual immediate external world, but a 
world in which Man knows God ; Nature is thus for 
Man a revelation of God. We have already seen how 
this relation of Spirit to Nature is present in the ethnic 
religions in which we encountered those forms which 
belong to the advance of Spirit from what is immediate 
to what is necessary and to the thought of something 
which acts wisely and in accordance with an end, Nature 
meanwhile being regarded as contingent. Thus the con- 
sciousness of God on the part of the finite spirit is 
reached through Nature, mediated by it. Man sees God 
by means of Nature ; Nature is so far merely a veiling 
and imperfect embodiment of God. 

What is distinguished from God is here really an 
Other, and has the form of an Other or object; it is 
Nature which exists for Spirit and for Man. It is 
through this that the unity of the two is to be brought 
about, and the consciousness attained that the end and 
the essential character of religion is reconciliation. The 
first thing is the abstract act of becoming conscious of 
God, that Man raises himself in Nature to God. This 
stage we saw represented in the proofs of the existence 
of God, and connected with it, too, are those pious reflec- 
tions as to how gloriously God has made everything 
how wisely He has arranged all things. This elevation 



44 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

of the soul takes it straight to God, and may start from 
any set of facts. The pious mind makes edifying re- 
flections upon what it sees, and beginning with what 
is most insignificant and most special, recognises in it 
something which is essentially higher. Very often you 
find mixed up with these reflections the perverted 
notion that what goes on in the world of Nature is to 
be regarded as belonging to a higher order of things 
than what is found in the human sphere. This way of 
looking at things, however, is inadequate, from the very 
fact that it starts from what is individual or particular. 
"We may look at things in another way which will be 
the opposite of this. The cause, it may be argued, must 
correspond to the phenomenon, and must itself con- 
tain the element of limitation which belongs to the 
phenomenon ; we desire a particular ground or basis 
upon which this particular phenomenon is based. This 
element of inadequacy always attaches to the considera- 
tion of any particular phenomenon. Further, these par- 
ticular phenomena belong to the realm of the natural ; 
God, however, must be conceived of as Spirit, and the 
element in which we recognise His presence must also 
be spiritual. " God thunders with His thunder," it is 
said, "and is yet not known." The spiritual man, how- 
ever, demands something higher than what is merely 
natural. If God is to be known as Spirit, He must do 
more than thunder. 

The truth is that we reach a higher mode of viewing 
Nature, and perceive the deeper relation in which it must 
be placed in regard to God, when it is itself conceived of 
as spiritual, i.e., as something which is the natural side 
of Man's nature. It is only when the subject ceases to 
be classed as belonging to the immediate Being of the 
Natural, and is made to appear what it implicitly is, 
namely, movement, and when it has gone into itself, that 
we get finitude as such, and finitude, in fact, as shown 
in the process of the relation in which the need of the 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 45 

absolute Idea and its manifestation come to exist for it. 
"What comes first here is the necessity or need of truth, 
while the kind and manner of the manifestation of the 
truth is what is second. 

As regards the first point, the necessity for truth, it 
is presupposed that there exists in subjective Spirit a 
demand to know the absolute truth. This necessity 
directly involves the supposition that the subject exists 
in a state of untruth ; as Spirit, however, the subject is 
at the same time implicitly raised above this state of 
untruth, and for this reason its condition of untruth is 
one which has to be surmounted. 

Untruth more strictly defined means that the subject 
is in a state of alienation from itself, and the need for 
truth so far expresses itself in the fact that this division 
or alienation is in the subject, and is just because of 
this also annulled by truth, that it is thus changed into 
reconciliation, and that this reconciliation which is within 
itself can only be a reconciliation with the truth. 

This is the necessity or need of truth in its more 
strictly defined form. Its essential character implies that 
the alienation is really in the subject, that the subject 
is evil, that it is inner division or alienation, inherent con- 
tradiction, not, however, contradiction of the mutually ex- 
clusive kind, but is something which at the same time 
keeps itself together, and that the alienation takes place 
only when it is an inner contradiction in the subject. 

3. This reminds us that we are called on to define the 
nature or essential character of Man, and to show how 
it is to be regarded, how Man ought to regard it, and 
what he has got to know of it. 

And here we (i) at once meet with characteristics 
which are mutually opposed : Man is by nature good, 
he is not divided against himself, but, on the contrary, 
his essence, his Notion, consists in this, that he is by 
nature good, that he represents what is harmony with 
itself, inner peace ; and Man is ly nature evil. 



46 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The first of these characteristics thus means that Man 
is by nature good, that his universal substantial essence 
is good ; the second characteristic is the opposite of this. 
This, then, to begin with, is the nature of these contrary 
propositions, so far as we are concerned, and so far as the 
outward way of looking at things is concerned. The next 
step is to perceive that we do not merely thus reflect 
upon things, but that Man has an independent knowledge 
of himself, and knows how he is constituted and what is 
his essential character. 

We have, to start with, the one proposition: Man is by 
nature good, what has no element of division ; thus he 
has no need of reconciliation, and if reconciliation is not 
at all necessary, then the course of development we are 
considering here and this whole part of the subject are 
superfluous. 

To say that Man is by nature good amounts substanti- 
ally to saying that he is potentially Spirit, rationality, that 
he has been created in the image of God ; God is the Good, 
and Man as Spirit is the reflection of God, he is the Good 
potentially. It is just on this very proposition and on it 
alone that the possibility of his reconciliation rests ; the 
difficulty, the ambiguity is, however, in the potentiality. 

Man is potentially good but when that is said every- 
thing is not said ; it is just in this potentiality that the 
element of one-sidedness lies. Man is good potentially, 
i.e., he is good only in an inward way, good so far as 
his notion or conception is concerned, and for this very 
reason not good so far as his actual nature is concerned. 

Man, inasmuch as he is Spirit, must actually be, be 
for himself, what he truly is ; physical Nature remains in 
the condition of potentiality, it is potentially the Notion, 
but the Notion does not in it attain to independent 
Being, to Being-for-self. It is just in the very fact that 
Man is only potentially good that the defect of his nature 
lies. 

The potentiality of Nature is represented by the laws 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 47 

of Nature ; Nature remains true to its laws, and does not 
go beyond them ; it is this which constitutes its substan- 
tiality, and just in consequence of this it is in the sphere 
of necessity. But in contrast to this, Man must be 
actually, for himself, what he potentially is, his potential 
being must come to be for him actual. 

What is good by nature is good in an immediate way, 
and it is just the very nature of Spirit not to be some- 
thing natural and immediate ; rather, it is involved in the 
very idea of Man as Spirit that he should pass out of 
this natural state into a state in which there is a separa- 
tion between his notion or conception and his immediate 
existence. In the case of physical Nature this separation 
of an individual thing from its law, from its substantial 
essence, does not occur, just because it is not free. 

What is meant by Man is, a being who sets himself 
in opposition to his immediate nature, to his state of 
being in himself, and reaches a state of separation. 

The other assertion made regarding Man springs directly 
from the statement that Man must not remain what he 
is immediately ; he must pass beyond the state of imme- 
diacy ; that is the notion or conception of Spirit. It 
is this passing beyond his natural state, his potential 
Being, which first of all forms the basis of the division 
or disunion, and in connection with which the disunion 
directly arises. 

This disunion is a passing out of this natural condition 
or immediacy ; but we must not take this to mean that it 
is the act of passing out of this condition which first 
constitutes evil, for, on the contrary, this passing out of 
immediacy is already involved in the state of nature. 
Potentiality and the natural state constitute the Imme- 
diate ; but because it is Spirit it is in its immediacy the 
passing out of its immediacy, the revolt or falling away 
from its immediacy, from its potential Being. 

This involves the second proposition : Man is by nature 
evil ; his potential Being, his natural Being, is evil. It 



4 8 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

is just in this his condition as one of natural Being that 
his defect is found ; because he is Spirit he is separated 
from this natural Being, and is disunion. One-sidedness 
is directly involved in this natural condition. When 
Man is only as he is according to Nature, he is evil. 

The natural man is Man as potentially good, good 
according to his conception or notion ; but in the concrete 
sense that man is natural who follows his passions and 
impulses, and remains within the circle of his desires, and 
whose natural immediacy is his law. 

He is natural, but in this his natural state he is at the 
same time a being possessed of will, and since the con- 
tent of his will is merely impulse and inclination, he is 
evil. So far as form is concerned, the fact that he is 
will implies that he is no longer an animal, but the 
content, the ends towards which his acts of will are 
directed, are still natural. This is the standpoint we 
are concerned with here, the higher standpoint according 
to which Man is by nature evil, and is evil just because 
he is something natural. 

The primary condition of Man, which is superficially 
represented as a state of innocence, is the state of nature, 
the animal state: Man must be culpable ; in so far as 
he is good, he must not be good as any natural thing is 
good, but his guilt, his will, must come into play, it must 
be possible to impute moral acts to him. Guilt really 
means the possibility of imputation. 

The good man is good along with and by means of his 
will, and to that extent because of his guilt. Innocence 
implies the absence of will, the absence of evil, and con- 
sequently the absence of goodness. Natural things and 
the animals are all good, but this is a kind of goodness 
which cannot be attributed to Man ; in so far as he is 
good, it must be by the action and consent of his will. 

What is absolutely required is that Man should not 
continue to be a natural being, to be natural will. Man, 
it is -true, is possessed of consciousness, but he can still 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 49 

be a natural being although he is Man, in so far as 
what is natural constitutes the end, the content, and the 
essential character of his acts of will. 

It is necessary to view this characteristic in a stricter 
way. Man is Man as being a subject or person, and as 
a natural subject he is a definite single subject, and his 
will is a definite single will ; particularity constitutes the 
content of his will, i.e., the natural man is selfish. 

We demand of the man who is called good that he 
should at least regulate his conduct in accordance with 
general principles and laws. The naturalness of will is, 
strictly speaking, the selfishness of will as distinguished 
from the universality of will, and as contrasted with the 
rationality of the will which has been trained to guide 
itself by universality. This Evil personified in a general 
way is the Devil. This latter, as representing the Nega- 
tive which wills itself, is because of this, self-identity, 
and must accordingly have the element of affirmation 
also in him, as he has in Milton, where his energy, which 
is full of character, makes him better than many an 
angel. 

But the fact that Man in so far as he represents the 
natural will is evil, does not imply that we can no longer 
regard him from the other point of view, according to 
which he is potentially good. He always remains good, 
viewed in accordance with his notion or conception ; but 
Man is consciousness, and is consequently essentially 
differentiation, and therefore a real, definite subject as 
distinguished from his notion ; and since this subject is, 
to begin with, merely distinguished from its notion, and 
has not yet returned into the unity of its subjectivity 
with the notion, into the rational state, this reality which 
it has is natural reality, and that is selfishness. 

The fact of evil directly presupposes a relation between 
reality and the Notion, and consequently we thus get 
simply the contradiction which is in potential Being, the 
contradiction of the Notion and particularity, of Good and 

VOL. in. D 



50 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Evil. It is to put a false question to ask, Is Man good 
by nature, or is he not ? That is a false position, and so, 
too, it is superficial to say, He is as much good as evil. 

In reference particularly to the statement that the 
will is caprice or arbitrary will, and can will good or 
evil, it may be remarked that, as a matter of fact, this 
arbitrary will is not will. It is will only in so far as it 
comes to a resolution, for in so far as it wills this or 
' thaUit is not will. The natural will is the will of the 
desires, of inclination which wills the immediate, and 
does not as yet will anything definite, for in order to do 
that it would have to be rational will and be able to per- 
ceive that law is rational. What is demanded of Man 
is that he should not be natural will, that he should 
not be as he is merely by nature. The conception of 
volition is something different from this ; so long as Man 
continues to exist ideally as will, he is only potentially 
will, he is not yet actual will, he does not yet exist as 
Spirit. This is the truth in its universal aspect ; the 
special aspect of it must here be left out of considera- 
tion. We can speak of what belongs to the definite 
sphere of morality only when we are dealing with some 
particular condition in which Man is placed ; it has 
nothing to do with the nature of Spirit. 

As opposed to the view that the will is evil, we have 
the fact that when we regard Man in a concrete way we 
speak of volition, and this concrete, this actual element 
cannot be simply something negative ; the evil will, how- 
ever, is thought of as purely negative volition, and this 
is a mere abstraction. If Man is not by nature what he 
should be, then he is implicitly rational, implicitly Spirit. 
This represents the affirmative element in him, and the 
fact that in the state of nature he is not what he ought 
to be, has reference accordingly only to the form of voli- 
tion, the essential point being that Man is potentially 
Spirit. This potentiality persists when the natural will 
is being yielded up ; it is the Notion, the persistent 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 51 

element, the self -producing element. When, on the 
other hand, we speak of the will being evil by nature, 
we are thinking of the will in its negative aspect merely. 
We thus have in our minds at the same time this parti- 
cular concrete element with which the abstraction referred 
to is in contradiction. We carry this so far that when 
we set up a Devil we have to show that there is some- 
thing affirmative in him, strength of character, energy, 
consistency. When we come to the concrete we at once 
find that affirmative characteristics must show themselves 
present in it. In all this it is forgotten that when we 
speak of men they are thought of as men who have been 
educated and trained by customs, laws, &c. People say, 
Men are, after all, not so bad just look round you ; but 
then the men round about us are men who are already 
educated ethically and morally, men already reconstructed 
and brought into a certain state of reconciliation. 

The main thing is, that in connection with religion we 
should not think of a moral condition, such as that of 
the child ; on the contrary, in any description of the 
truth, what is essentially presented to us is the logical 
unfolding of the history of what Man is. It is the specu- 
lative way of regarding things which rules here ; the 
abstract differences of the Notion are presented in suc- 
cessive order. If it is the trained and cultured man who 
has to be studied, then the change and reconstruction and 
discipline through which he has passed must necessarily 
appear in him as representing the transition from natural 
volition to true volition, and his immediate natural will 
must necessarily appear in this case as something which 
has been absorbed in what is higher. 

(2.) If, therefore, the first characteristic means that Man 
in his immediate state is not what he is intended to be, then 
we have to remember that Man has also to reflect upon 
himself as he thus is ; the fact of his being evil is thus 
brought into relation with reflection. This is readily taken 
to mean that it is only in accordance with this knowledge 



52 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

he comes to be regarded as evil, so that this reflection is 
a sort of external demand or condition implying that if 
he were not to reflect upon himself in this way the other 
characteristic, namely, that he is evil, would drop away. 

When this act of reflection is made a duty, then it 
may be so represented as to suggest that it only is what 
is essential, and that there can be no content without it. 
Further, the relation of reflection is stated also in such a 
way as to imply that it is reflection or knowledge which 
makes man evil, so that it is evil, and it is this knowledge 
which ought not to exist, and which is the source of evil. 
In this way of representing it, we have the connection 
which exists between the fact of being evil and know- 
ledge. This is a point of essential importance. 

In its more definite form this idea of evil implies that 
Man becomes evil through knowledge, or, as the Bible 
represents it, that he ate of the tree of knowledge. In 
this way, knowledge, intelligence, the theoretic element, 
and will enter into a more definite relation, and the 
nature of evil gets to be discussed in a more definite way. 
In this connection it may accordingly be remarked that 
as a matter of fact it is knowledge which is the source of 
all evil, for knowledge or consciousness is just the act 
by which separation, the negative element, judgment, 
division in the more definite specific form of independent 
existence or Being-for-self in general, comes into exist- 
ence. Man's nature is not as it ought to be ; it is 
knowledge which reveals this to him, and brings to light 
that condition of Being in which he ought not to be. 
This obligation which lies on him is his Notion, and the 
fact that he is not what he should be originates first of 
all in the sense of separation or alienation, and from a 
comparison between what he is and what he is in his 
essential nature, in -and -for -himself. It is knowledge 
which first brings out the contrast or antithesis in 
which evil is found. The animal, the stone, the plant 
is not evil; evil is first present within the sphere of 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 53 

knowledge ; it is the consciousness of independent Being, 
or Being-for-self relatively to an Other, but also rela- 
tively to an Object which is inherently universal in the 
sense that it is the Notion, or rational will. It is only 
by means of this separation that I exist independently, 
for myself, and it is in this that evil lies. To be evil 
means in an abstract sense to isolate myself ; the isola- 
tion which separates me from the Universal represents 
the element of rationality, the laws, the essential char- 
acteristics of Spirit. But it is along with this separa- 
tion that Being-for-self originates, and it is only when 
it appears that we have the Spiritual as something uni- 
versal, as Law, what ought to be. 

It is therefore not the case that reflection stands in 
an external relation to evil, but, on the contrary, reflection 
itself is evil. This is the condition of contrast to which 
Man, because he is Spirit, must advance ; he has, in fact, 
to be independent or for himself in such a way that he 
has as his object something which is his own object 
confronting him, which exists for him, the Good, the 
Universal, his essential or ideal character. Spirit is 
free, and freedom has within itself the essential element 
of the disunion referred to. It is in this disunion that 
independent Being or Being-for-self originates, and it is 
in it that evil has its seat ; here is the source of the evil, 
but here also the point which is the ultimate source of 
reconciliation. It is at once what produces the disease, 
and the source of health. We cannot, however, better 
illustrate the character and mode of this movement of 
Spirit than by referring to the form it takes in the story 
of the Fall. 

Sin is described by saying that Man ate of the tree of 
knowledge, &c. This implies the presence of knowledge, 
division, disunion in which good as existing for Man 
first shows itself, but, as a consequence, evil too. Ac- 
cording to the story it is forbidden to eat of the tree, and 
thus evil is represented in a formal way as the trans- 



54 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

gression of a divine command, which might have had any- 
kind of content. Here, however, it is just the knowledge 
referred to which essentially constitutes the command. 
It is upon this that the rise of consciousness depends, 
but it is at the same time to be thought of as a standpoint 
at which consciousness cannot rest, but which is to be 
absorbed in something higher, for consciousness must 
not remain at that point at which Being-for-self is in a 
state of disunion. The serpent further says that Man 
by the act of eating would become equal to God, and by 
speaking thus he made an appeal to Man's pride. God 
says to Himself, Adam is become as one of us. The 
serpent had thus not lied, for God confirms what it said. 
A great deal of trouble has been taken with the explana- 
tion of this passage, and some have gone the length of 
explaining it as irony. The truer explanation, how- 
ever, is that the Adam referred to is to be understood as 
representing the second Adam, namely, Christ. Know- 
ledge is the principle of spiritual life, but it is also, as 
was remarked, the principle of the healing of the injury 
caused by disunion. It is in fact this principle of 
knowledge which supplies also the principle of man's 
divineness, a principle which by a process of self- 
adjustment or elimination of difference must reach a 
condition of reconciliation or truth ; or, in other words, 
it involves the promise and certainty of attaining once 
more the state in which Man is the image of God. 
We find such a prophecy expressed pictorially in what 
God says to the serpent, " I will put enmity, &c." 
Since the serpent represents the principle of knowledge 
as something existing independently outside of Adam, 
it is clearly perfectly logical that Man, as representing 
concrete knowledge, should have in himself the other side 
of the truth, that of conversion and reflection, and that 
this other side should bruise the head of the serpent as 
representing the opposite side. 

This is what the first man is represented as having 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 55 

actually done, but here again we are using the language 
of sense ; the first man, considered from the point of 
view of thought, signifies Man as Man, not any individual 
accidental single man out of many, but the first man 
absolutely, Man regarded in accordance with his con- 
ception or notion. Man as such is consciousness, and 
consequently he enters into this state of disunion con- 
sciousness, namely, which when it gets a more specific 
character is knowledge. 

In so far as the universal man is represented as the 
first man, he is distinguished from other men, and so the 
question arises : It is only this particular individual who 
has done the evil deed, how, then, has it affected others ? 
Here accordingly we have the popular conception of in- 
heritance, and by means of it the defect which attaches 
to the representation of Man as such, as an individual 
first man, is corrected. 

Division or disunion is essentially implied in the 
conception of Man ; the one-sided view involved in the 
representation of his act as the act of one individual is 
thus changed into a complete view by the introduction 
of the idea of communicated or inherited evil. 

Work, &c., is declared to be the punishment of sin, 
and this from a general point of view is a necessary 
consequence. 

The animal does not work, it works only when com- 
pelled, it does not work by nature, it does not eat its 
bread in the sweat of its brow, it does not produce its 
own bread; it directly finds in Nature satisfaction for all 
the needs it has. Man, too, finds the material for doing 
this ; but the material, we may say, is for Man the least 
important part ; the infinite means whereby he satisfies 
his needs come to him through work. 

"Work done in the sweat of his brow, both bodily 
work, and the work of the spirit, which is the harder 
of the two, is immediately connected with the knowledge 
of good and evil. That Man must make himself what 



56 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

he is, that he must eat his bread in the sweat of his 
brow, that he must produce the nature which is his, 
belongs to what is essential to and most distinctive of 
Man, and is necessarily connected with the knowledge of 
good and evil. 

The story further describes how the tree of life also 
stood in the garden ; and the representation of this fact 
is of a simple and childlike character. The Good to- 
wards which men direct their wishes is of two kinds. 
Man wishes, on the one hand, to live in undisturbed hap- 
piness, in harmony with himself and outward Nature ; 
the animal continues in this condition of unity, but Man 
has to pass beyond it ; his other wish practically is to 
live eternally and it is in accordance with these wishes 
that this pictorial conception has been constructed. 

When we consider this representation of primitive 
man more closely, it is at once seen to be of a merely 
childlike sort. Man as an individual living thing, his 
individual life, his natural life, must die. But when we 
look more narrowly at the narrative, this is seen to be 
the wonderful part of it, the self-contradictory element 
in it. 

In this contradiction Man is characterised as having 
an existence of his own, as being for himself. Being- 
for-self, in its character as consciousness, self-conscious- 
ness, is infinite self -consciousness, abstractly infinite. 
The fact that lie is conscious of his freedom, of his 
absolutely abstract freedom, constitutes his infinite Being- 
for-self, which did not thus come into consciousness in 
the earlier religions in which the contrast or opposition 
did not get to this absolute stage, nor attain to this 
depth. Owing to the fact that this has happened here, 
the worth or dignity of Man is directly put on a much 
higher level. The subject has hereby attained absolute 
importance ; it is essentially an object of interest to 
God, since it is self-consciousness which exists on its 
own account. It appears as the pure certainty of itself 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 57 

within itself, there exists in it a centre or point of 
infinite subjectivity; it is certainly abstract, but it is 
abstract essential Being, Being in-and-for-self. This 
takes the form of the assertion that Man as Spirit is 
immortal, is an object of God's interest, is raised above 
finitude and dependence, above external circumstances, 
that he has freedom to abstract himself from everything, 
and this implies that he can escape mortality. It is in 
religion that the immortality of the soul is the element 
of supreme importance, because the antithesis involved 
in religion is of an infinite kind. 

What is mortal is what can die ; what is immortal 
is what can reach a state in which death cannot enter. 
Combustible and incombustible are terms implying that 
combustion is a possibility merely, which attaches to the 
object in an external way. The essential character of 
Being is not, however, a possibility after this fashion, 
but, on the contrary, is an affirmative determinate quality 
which it already now possesses in itself. 

Thus the immortality of the soul must not be repre- 
sented as first entering the sphere of reality only at a 
later stage ; it is the actual present quality of Spirit ; 
Spirit is eternal, and for this reason is already present. 
Spirit, as possessed of freedom, does not belong to the 
sphere of things limited ; it, as being what thinks and 
knows in an absolute way, has the Universal for its 
object ; this is eternity, which is not simply duration, as 
duration can be predicated of mountains, but knowledge. 
The eternity of Spirit is here brought into consciousness, 
and is found in this reasoned knowledge, in this very 
separation, which has reached the infinitude ofBeing-for- 
self, and which is no longer entangled in what is natural, 
contingent, and external. This eternity of Spirit in itself 
means that Spirit is, to begin with, potential ; but the 
next standpoint implies that Spirit ought not to continue 
to be merely natural Spirit, but that it ought to be what 
it is in its essential and complete nature, in-and-for-self. 



58 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Spirit must reflect upon itself, and in this way disunion 
arises, it must not remain at the point at which it is 
seen not to be what it is potentially, but must become 
adequate to its conception or notion, it must become 
universal Spirit. Kegarded from the standpoint of divi- 
sion or disunion, its potential Being is for it an Other, 
and it itself is natural will ; it is divided within itself, 
and this division is so far its feeling or consciousness of 
a contradiction, and there is thus given along with it the 
necessity for the abolition of the contradiction. 

On the one hand, it is said that Man in Paradise 
without sin would have been immortal immortality on 
earth and the immortality of the soul are not separated 
in this statement and would have lived for ever. If 
this outward death is to be regarded as merely a con- 
sequence of sin, then he would be implicitly immortal ; 
on the other hand, we have it also stated in the story 
that it was not till Man should eat of the tree of life 
that he was to become immortal. 

The matter, in fact, stands thus. Man is immortal in 
consequence of knowledge, for it is only as a thinking 
being that he is not a mortal animal soul, and is a free, 
pure soul Eeasoned knowledge, thought, is the root of 
his life, of his immortality as a totality in himself. The 
animal soul is sunk in the life of the body, while Spirit, 
on the other hand, is a totality in itself. 

The next thing is, that this idea which we have reached 
in the region of thought should take an actual shape 
in Man, i.e., that Man should come to see the infinite 
nature of the opposition, of the opposition, that is, be- 
tween good and evil, that he should know himself to 
be evil in so far as he is something natural, and thus 
become conscious of the antithesis, not merely in general, 
but as actually existing in himself, and see that it is 
he who is evil, and realise that the demand that the 
Good should be attained, and consequently the con- 
sciousness of disunion and the feeling of pain because 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 59 

of the contradiction and opposition, have been awakened 
in him. 

We have found the form of the opposition in all 
religions ; but the opposition between Man and the power 
of Nature, between Man and the moral law, the moral 
will, morality, fate, is an opposition of a subordinate 
kind, involving opposition merely in reference to some 
particular thing. 

The man who transgresses a commandment is evil, 
but he is evil only in this particular case, he is in a 
condition of opposition only in reference to this special 
commandment. We saw that in the Persian religion 
good and evil stood to each other in a relation of general 
opposition ; there the opposition is outside of Man, who 
is himself outside of it. This abstract opposition is not 
present within himself. 

It is accordingly required that Man should have this 
abstract opposition within himself and overcome it, not 
merely that he should not obey this or the other command, 
since the truth rather really is that he is implicitly evil, 
evil in his universal character, in his most inward nature, 
purely evil, evil in his inner being, and that this quality 
of evil represents the essential quality of his conception, 
and that he has to become conscious of this. 

(3.) It is with this depth of Spirit that we are con- 
cerned. Depth means the abstraction of the opposition, 
the pure universalisatiou of the opposition, so that its 
two sides acquire this absolutely universal character in 
reference to each other. 

This opposition has, speaking generally, two forms : 
on the one hand, it is the opposition of evil as such, 
implying that it is the opposition itself which is evil 
this is the opposition viewed in reference to God ; on the 
other hand, it is opposition as against the world, im- 
plying that it is out of harmony with the world this 
is misery, the condition of division or disunion viewed 
from the other side. 



60 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

In order that the need of universal reconciliation, and 
as a part of this divine reconciliation, absolute recon- 
ciliation in Man, should arise, it is necessary that the 
opposition should get this infinite character, and that it 
should be seen that this universality comprises Man's 
most inward nature, that there is nothing which is out- 
side of this opposition, that the opposition is not of a 
particular kind. This is the deepest depth. 

(a.) We have first to consider the relation in which the 
disunion stands to one of the extremes, namely, to God. 
Man is inwardly conscious that in the depths of his being 
he is a contradiction, and thus there arises an infinite feel- 
ing of sorrow in reference to himself. Sorrow is present 
only where there is opposition to what ought to be, to 
an affirmative. What is no longer in itself an affirma- 
tive has no contradiction, no sorrow in it either ; sorrow 
is just negativity in the Affirmative, it means that the 
Affirmative is something self-contradictory, that it is 
wounded by its own act. 

This sorrow is the one element of evil. Evil existing 
simply by itself is an abstraction, it exists only in op- 
position to good ; and since it is present in the unity 
of the subject, the feeling of opposition in reference to 
this disunion constitutes infinite sorrow. If the con- 
sciousness of good did not thus exist in the subject 
itself, and if the infinite demand made by good was not 
present in the inmost being of the subject, then there 
would be no sorrow there, evil itself would be an 
empty nothing ; it is present only in this antithesis or 
opposition. 

Both evil and this sorrow can be infinite only when 
good, God, is known as one God, as a pure spiritual 
God, and it is only when good is this pure unity, when 
we have belief in one God, and only in connection with 
such a belief, that the negative can and must advance 
to this determination of evil, and that the negation also 
can advance to this condition of universalitv. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 61 

The one side of this disunion thus becomes apparent by 
the elevation of Man to the pure spiritual unity of God. 
This sorrow and this consciousness represent Man's descent 
into himself, and consequently into the negative moment 
of disunion or evil. 

This is the negative, or inward, descent or absorption 
into evil ; inward absorption of an affirmative kind is 
absorption into the pure unity of God. When this 
stage is reached, it is seen that I as a natural man do not 
correspond to what represents the truth, and that I am 
entangled in the multiplicity of natural particular thing?, 
and just as the truth of the one Good is present in me 
with an infinite certainty, so this want of correspondence 
gets a determinate character as something which ought 
not to be. 

The problem, the demand, is of an infinite kind. 
It may be said that since I am a natural man I have 
from one point of view a consciousness of myself; but 
to be in a state of nature means that I am without con- 
sciousness in reference to myself, means the absence of 
will ; I am a being of the kind which acts in accordance 
with Nature, and so far regarded from this side I am, 
as is often said, innocent, I have, so far, no conscious- 
ness of what I do, I am without any will of my own, 
what I do I do without definite inclination, and allow 
myself to be surprised into doing it by impulse. 

Here, however, in this state of opposition this inno- 
cence disappears. For it is just this natural, unconscious, 
and will-less Being of Man which ought not to be, and it 
is consequently determined to evil in presence of the 
pure unity, the perfect purity which I know as repre- 
senting the True and the Absolute. In putting it thus 
we imply that when this point has been reached it is 
essentially this very unconsciousness and absence of will 
which is to be considered as evil. 

The contradiction, however, still remains, turn it how 
you will. Since this so-called innocence characterises 



62 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

itself as evil, the want of correspondence between myself 
and the Absolute, my inadequacy to express my essence, 
remain, and thus, from whichever side I regard myself, 
I always know myself to be something which ought not 
to be. 

This expresses the relation in reference to the one 
extreme, and the result, this sorrow in a more definite 
form, is my humility, the feeling of contrition, the fact 
that I experience sorrow because I as a natural being 
do not correspond to what I at the same time know 
myself to be in my knowledge and will. 

(5.) As regards the relation to the other extreme, the 
separation appears in this case in the form of misery 
arising from the fact that Man does not find satisfac- 
tion in the world. His desire for satisfaction, his natural 
wants have no longer any rights, any claims to be satisfied. 
As a natural being, Man stands related to an Other, and 
that Other is related to him in the form of forces, and his 
existence is to this extent contingent, just as that of other 
things is. 

The demands of his nature, however, in reference to 
morality, the higher moral claims of his nature, are 
demands and determinations of freedom. In so far as 
these demands, which are implicitly legitimate, and are 
grounded in his notion or conception for he knows 
about the Good, and the Good is in him do not find 
their satisfaction in the existing order of things, in the 
external world, he is in a state of misery. 

It is misery which drives Man into himself, forces 
him back into himself, and because this fixed demand 
that the world should be rational exists in him, he gives 
up the world, and seeks happiness, satisfaction, in him- 
self, as the harmony of the affirmative side of his nature 
with himself. Because he seeks after this, he gives up 
the external world, transfers his happiness into himself, 
and finds satisfaction in himself. 

"We had this demand and this unhappiness in the 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 63 

two following forms. We saw how the sorrow which 
comes from universality, from above, was found amongst 
the Jewish people ; in connection with it there is ever 
present the infinite demand for absolute purity in my 
natural existence, in my empirical willing and knowing. 
The other form they took, the retreat from misery into 
self, represents the standpoint at which the Roman world 
arrived and where it ended, namely, the universal misery 
of the world. 

We saw how this formal inwardness which finds 
satisfaction in the world, this dominion as being the aim 
or end of God, was represented, and known, and thought 
of as worldly dominion. Both of these aspects of the 
truth are one-sided ; the first may be defined as the feel- 
ing of humiliation, the other is the abstract elevation of 
Man in himself, of Man as self-centred. Thus it is 
Stoicism or Scepticism. 

According to the Stoical or Sceptical view, Man is 
driven back upon himself, he has to find satisfaction in 
himself, in this state of independence ; in remaining 
inflexibly self-centred he has to find happiness, inner 
harmony of soul, he is to rest in this abstract, present, 
self-conscious inwardness of his. 

It is in this separation or disunion, as we have said, 
that the subject thus takes on a definite character, and 
conceives of itself as the extreme of abstract Being-for- 
self, of abstract freedom ; the soul plunges into its depths, 
into its absolute abyss. This soul is the undeveloped 
monad, the naked monad, the empty soul devoid of con- 
tent ; but since it is potentially the Notion, the concrete, 
this emptiness or abstraction stands in a relation of 
contradiction to its essential character, which is, to be 
concrete. 

Thus the universal element is represented by the fact 
that in this separation which develops into an infinite 
antithesis, the abstraction is to be done away with and 
absorbed. This abstract " I " is also in itself, a will, it is 



64 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

concrete, but the immediate element which is present in 
it and gives it substance is the natural will. The soul 
linds nothing in itself except desires, selfishness, &c. ; and 
this is one of the forms of the opposition, that " I," as 
representing the soul in the depth of its nature, and the 
real side, are distinct from one another, and in such a way 
that the real side is not something which has been made 
adequate to express the Notion and is accordingly carried 
back to it, but, on the contrary, finds in itself only the 
natural will. 

The sphere of opposition in which the real side is 
further developed, is the world, and thus the unity of 
the Notion has opposed to it the natural will as a whole, 
the principle of which is selfishness, and the realisation 
of which appears in the form of depravity, cruelty, &c. 
The objectivity which this pure " I " has, and which 
exists for it as something adequate to express it, is not 
found in the natural will, nor in the world either ; on the 
contrary, the objectivity which adequately corresponds 
to it is the universal Essence only, that One which does 
not find its realisation or fulness in it, and which has ail 
that supplies realisation, or the world, confronting it. 

Accordingly the consciousness of this opposition, of 
this division between the " I " and the natural will, is that 
of an infinite contradiction. This "I" exists in an im- 
mediate relation to the natural will and to the world, 
and at the same time it is repelled by them. This is 
infinite sorrow, the world's Passion. The reconciliation 
which we have hitherto found to be connected with this 
standpoint is only partial, and for that reason unsatis- 
factory. The harmony of the " I " within itself, which 
it attains in the Stoic philosophy, is of a merely ab- 
stract kind ; it here knows itself as what thinks, and its 
object is what is thought, the Universal, and this is for it 
simply everything, the true essentiality, and thus this has 
for it the value of something thought, and has value for the 
subject as being what it itself has posited. This recon- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 65 

ciliation is merely abstract, for all determination lies 
outside of what is thus thought, and we have merely 
formal self-identity. Such an abstract kind of recon- 
ciliation cannot find, and ought not to find, a place in 
connection with this absolute standpoint, nor can the 
natural will find satisfaction within itself either, for 
neither it nor the world as it is can satisfy him who has 
become conscious of his infinity. The abstract depth of 
the opposition demands an infinite suffering on the part 
of the soul, and consequently a reconciliation which will 
be correspondingly complete. 

These are the highest, most abstract moments, and the 
opposition or antithesis is the highest of all. The two 
sides represent the opposition in its most complete uni- 
versality, in what is most inward, in the Universal itself, 
the two sides of the antithesis in the case in which 
the opposition goes deepest. Both sides are, however, 
one-sided ; the first side contains the sorrow, the abstract 
humiliation referred to ; what is highest here is simply 
this inadequacy of the subject to express the Universal, 
this division or disruption, which is not healed nor ad- 
justed, representing the opposition between an infinite 
on the one side, and a fixed finitude on the other side. 
This finitude is abstract finitude ; anything in this con- 
nection reckoned as belonging to me is, according to this 
way of looking at it, simply evil. 

This abstraction finds its completion in the Other j 
this is thought in itself, it implies that I am adequate 
to myself, that I find satisfaction in myself and can be 
satisfied in myself. This second side is, however, actually 
just as one-sided, for it is merely the Affirmative, my self- 
affirmation in myself. The first side, the brokenness of 
heart, is merely negative, without affirmation in itself; 
the second is meant to represent this affirmation, this 
satisfaction of self within self. This satisfaction of my- 
self in myself, however, is a merely abstract satisfaction 
reached by fleeing from the world, from reality, by pas- 

VOL. III. E 



66 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

sivity. Since this is a fleeing from reality, it is also a 
fleeing from my reality, not a fleeing from external reality, 
but from the reality of my own volition. 

The reality of my volition, I as a definite subject, the 
will in a realised form, are no longer mine ; but what is 
left to me is the immediacy of my salf-consciousness, the 
individual self -consciousness. This is certainly com- 
pletely abstract, still this final point of the spirit's depth 
is contained in it, and I have preserved myself in it. 

This abstraction from my abstract reality is not in me 
or in my immediate self-consciousness, in the immediacy 
of my self-consciousness. On this side, therefore, it is 
affirmation which is the predominant factor, affirmation 
without the negation of the one-sidedness of immediate 
Being. In the other case it is the negation which is 
one-sided. 

These are the two moments which contain the neces- 
sity for transition. The conception or notion of the 
preceding religions has purified itself and thus reached 
this antithesis, and the fact that this antithesis or oppo- 
sition has shown itself to be, and has taken the form of, 
an actually existing necessity, is expressed by the words, 
" When the time was fulfilled," i.e., Spirit, the demand of 
Spirit, is actually present, Spirit which points the way to 
reconciliation. 

(c.) Reconciliation. The deepest need of Spirit con- 
sists in the fact that the opposition in the subject itself 
has attained its universal, i.e., its most abstract extreme. 
This is the division, the sorrow referred to. That these 
two sides are not mutually exclusive, but constitute this 
contradiction in one, is what directly proves the subject 
to be an infinite force of unity ; it can bear this contra- 
diction. This is the formal, abstract, but also infinite 
energy of the unity which it possesses. 

What satisfies this need, we call the consciousness of 
reconcilement, the consciousness of the abolition, of the 
nullity of the opposition, the consciousness that this 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 67 

opposition is not the truth, but that, on the contrary, 
the truth consists in reaching unity by the negation of 
this opposition, i.e., the peace, the reconciliation which 
this need demands. Reconciliation is the demand of the 
subject's sense of need, and is inherent in it as being 
what is infinitely one, what is self-identical. 

This abolition of the opposition has two sides. The 
subject must come to be conscious that this opposition is 
not something implicit or essential, but that the truth, the 
inner nature of Spirit, implies the abolition and absorp- 
tion of this opposition. Accordingly, just because it is 
implicitly, and, from the point of view of truth, done 
away with in something higher, the subject as such in 
its Being-for-self can reach and arrive at the abolition 
of this opposition, that is to say, can attain to peace or 
reconciliation. 

i. The very fact that the opposition is implicitly done 
away with constitutes the condition, the presupposition, 
the possibility of the subject's ability to do away with it 
actually. In this respect it may be said that the subject 
does not attain reconciliation on its own account, that is, 
as a particular subject, and in virtue of its own activity, 
and what it itself does ; reconciliation is not brought 
about, nor can it be brought about, by the subject in its 
character as subject. 

This is the nature of the need when the question is, 
By what means can it be satisfied ? Eeconciliation can 
be brought about only when the annulling of the division 
has been arrived at ; when what seems to shun recon- 
ciliation, this opposition, namely, is non-existent ; when 
the divine truth is seen to be for this, the resolved or 
cancelled contradiction, in which the two opposites lay 
aside their mutually abstract relation. 

Here again, accordingly, the question above referred to 
once more arises. Can the subject not bring about this 
reconciliation by itself by means of its own action, by 
bringing its inner life to correspond with the divine Idea 



68 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

through its own piety and devoutness, and by giving 
expression to this in actions ? And, further, can the 
individual subject not do this, or, at least, may not all 
men do it who rightly will to adopt the divine Law as 
theirs, so that heaven might exist on earth, and the Spirit 
in its graciousness actually live here and have a real 
existence ? The question is as to whether the subject 
can or cannot effect this in virtue of its own powers as 
subject. The ordinary idea is that it can do this. What 
we have to notice here, and what must be carefully kept 
in mind, is that we are dealing with the subject thought 
of as standing at one of the two extremes, as existing for 
itself. To subjectivity belongs, as a characteristic feature, 
the power of positing, and this means that some parti- 
cular thing exists owing to me. This positing or making 
actual, this doing of actions, &c., takes place through 
me, it matters not what the content is ; the act of pro- 
ducing is consequently a one-sided characteristic, and the 
product is merely something posited, or dependent for its 
existence on something else ; it remains as such merely 
in a condition of abstract freedom. The question referred 
to consequently comes to be a question as to whether it 
can by its act of positing produce this. This positing 
must essentially be a pre-positing, a presupposition, so that 
what is posited is also something implicit. The unity of 
subjectivity and objectivity, this divine unity, must be a 
presupposition so far as my act of positing is concerned, 
and it is only then that it has a content, a substantial 
element in it, and the content is Spirit, otherwise it is 
subjective and formal ; it is only then that it gets a true, 
substantial content. When this presupposition thus gets 
a definite character it loses its one-sidedness, and when a 
definite signification is given to a presupposition of this 
kind the one-sidedness is in this way removed and lost. 
Kant and Fichte tell us that man can sow, can do good 
only on the presupposition that there is a moral order in 
the world ; he does not know whether what he does will 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 69 

prosper and succeed ; he can only act on the presupposi- 
tion that the Good by its very nature involves growth 
and success, that it is not merely something posited, but, 
on the contrary, is in its own nature objective. Presup- 
position involves essential determination. 

The harmony of this contradiction must accordingly 
be represented as something which is a presupposition 
for the subject. The Notion, in getting to know the 
divine unity, knows that God essentially exists in-and- 
for-Himself, and consequently what the subject thinks, 
and its activity, have no meaning in themselves, but are 
and exist only in virtue of that presupposition. The 
truth must therefore appear to the subject as a presup- 
position, and the question is as to how and in what form 
the truth can appear in connection with the standpoint 
we now occupy ; it is infinite sorrow, the pure depth 
of the soul, and it is for this sorrow that the cancelling 
or solution of the contradiction has to exist. This can- 
celling has, to begin with, necessarily the form of a pre- 
supposition, because what we have here is a one-sided 
extreme. 

What belongs to the subject, therefore, is simply this 
act of positing, action as representing merely one side ; 
the other side is the substantial and fundamental one, 
which contains in it the possibility of reconciliation. This 
means that this opposition does not really exist implicitly. 
To put it more correctly, it means that the opposition 
springs up eternally, and at the same time eternally 
abolishes itself, is at the same time eternal reconciliation. 

That this is the truth, we saw when dealing with the 
eternal divine Idea, which implies that God as living 
Spirit distinguishes Himself from Himself, posits an 
Other, and in this Other remains identical with Himself, 
and has in this other His self-identity with Himself. 

This is the truth ; it is this truth which must consti- 
tute the one side of what Man has to become conscious 
of, the potentially existing, substantial side. 



70 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

We may express it in a more definite form by saying 
that the opposition is inadequacy in general. The oppo- 
sition, Evil, represents the natural aspect of human exist- 
ence and volition, or immediacy. This is just the mode 
of existence characteristic of the natural life ; it is just 
when we have immediacy that we have finitude, and 
this finitude or natural life is inadequate to express the 
universality of God, of the absolutely free, self -existent, 
infinite, eternal Idea. 

This inadequacy is the starting-point which constitutes 
the need of reconciliation. The stricter definition of it 
would not consist in saying that the inadequacy attach- 
ing to both sides disappears for consciousness. The 
v inadequacy exists; it is involved in what is spiritual. 
Spirit means self-differentiation, the positing or making 
explicit of differences. 

If these are different, then, by the very fact that ac- 
cording to this moment they are differences, they are not 
alike; they are distinguished from each ether, they do 
not correspond to each other. The inadequacy or want of 
correspondence cannot disappear ; if it were to disappear 
then Spirit's power of judgment or differentiation, its 
life, would disappear, in which case it would cease to be 
Spirit. 

2. A further determination is reached when we say 
that, spite of this want of correspondence, the identity of 
the two exists ; that otherness or Other-Being, finitude, 
weakness, the frailty of human nature, cannot in any 
way impair the value of that unity which forms the 
substantial element in reconciliation. 

This, too, we recognised as present in the divine Idea ; 
for the Son is other than the Father, and this Other- 
Being is difference, for if it were not, it would not be 
Spirit.! But the Other is God, and has the entire ful- 
ness of the Divine nature in Himself. The characteristic 
of Other-Being in no way detracts from the value of the 
fact that this Other is the Son of God, and is conse- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 71 

quently God ; and so, too, it does not detract from the 
divine character of the Other as it appears in human 
nature. 

This otherness or Other-Being is Being which eternally 
annuls itself, which eternally posits itself and eternally 
annuls itself, and this self-positing and annulling of 
Other-Being is love or Spirit. Evil, as representing 
one side of Being, has been defined simply as the Other, 
the finite, the negative, and God has been placed on the 
other side as the Good, the True. But this Other, this 
negative, contains within itself affirmation as well, and 
in finite Being it must come to be consciously known 
that the principle of affirmation is contained in this 
Other, and that there lies in this principle of affirmation 
the principle of identity with the other side, just as God 
is not only the True, abstract self-identity, but has in 
the Other, in negation, in the self-positing of the Other, 
His peculiarly essential characteristic, which is indeed the 
peculiar characteristic of Spirit. 

The possibility of reconciliation rests only on the 
conscious recognition of the implicit unity of divine and 
human nature ; this is the necessary basis. Thus Man 
can know that he has been received into union with God 
in so far as God is not for him something foreign to his 
nature, in so far as he does not stand related to God as 
an external accident, but when he has been taken up 
into God in his essential character, in a way which is in 
accordance with his freedom and subjectivity ; this, how- 
ever, is possible only in so far as this subjectivity which 
belongs to human nature exists in God Himself. 

Infinite sorrow must come to be conscious of this im- 
plicit Being as the implicit unity of divine and human 
nature, but only in its character as implicit Being or 
substantiality, and in such a way that this finitude, this 
weakness, this Other-Being, in no way impairs the sub- 
stantial unity of the two. 

The unity of divine and human nature, Man in his 



72 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

universality, is the Thought of Man, and the Idea of 
absolute Spirit in -and -for -itself. In the process also 
in which Other-Being annuls itself, this Idea and the 
objectivity of God are implicitly real, and they are in 
fact immediately present in all men ; out of the cup of 
the entire spirit-realm there foams for him infinitude. 
The sorrow which the finite experiences in being thus 
annulled and absorbed, does not give pain, since it is 
by this means raised to the rank of a moment in the 
process of the Divine. 

"Why should that trouble trouble us, since it makes our 
pleasure more ?" 

Here, however, at the standpoint at which we now 
are, it is not with the Thought of Man that we have 
got to do. Nor can we stop short at the characteristic of 
individuality in general, which is itself again universal, 
and is present in abstract thinking as such. 

3. On the contrary, if Man is to get a consciousness 
of the unity of divine and human nature, and of this 
characteristic of Man as belonging to Man in general ; 
or if this knowledge is to force its way wholly into the 
consciousness of his finitude as the beam of eternal 
light which reveals itself to him in the finite, then it 
must reach him in his character as Man in general, 
i.e., apart from any particular conditions of culture or 
training ; it must come to him as representing Man in 
his immediate state, and it must be universal for imme- 
diate consciousness. 

The consciousness of the absolute Idea, which we have 
in thought, must therefore not be put forward as belong- 
ing to the standpoint of philosophical speculation, of 
speculative thought, but must, on the contrary, appear 
in the form, of certainty for men in general. This does 
not mean that they think this consciousness, or perceive 
and recognise the necessity of this Idea ; but what we are 
concerned to show is rather that the Idea becomes for 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 73 

them certain, i.e., this Idea, namely, the unity of divine 
and human nature, attains the stage of certainty, that, so 
far as they are concerned, it receives the form of imme- 
diate sense-perception, of outward existence in short, 
that this Idea appears as seen and experienced in the 
world. This unity must accordingly show itself to con- 
sciousness in a purely temporal, absolutely ordinary 
manifestation of reality, in one particular man, in a 
definite individual who is at the same time known to 
be the Divine Idea, not merely a Being of a higher kind 
in general, but rather the highest, the absolute Idea, the 
Son of God. 

The expression, " the divine and human natures in 
One," is a harsh and awkward one ; but we must forget 
the pictorial idea associated with it. What we have 
got to think of in connection with it is the spiritual 
substantiality which it suggests ; in the unity of the 
divine and human natures everything belonging to 
outward particularisation has disappeared ; the finite, in 
fact, has disappeared. 

It is the substantial element in the unity of the 
divine and human natures of which Man attains the con- 
sciousness, and in such a way that to him Man appears 
as God and God as Man. This substantial unity is 
Man's potential nature ; but while this implicit nature 
exists for Man, it is above and beyond immediate con- 
sciousness, ordinary consciousness and knowledge ; con- 
sequently it must be regarded as existing in a region 
above that subjective consciousness which takes the form 
of ordinary consciousness and is characterised as such. 

This explains why this unity must appear for others 
in the form of an individual man marked off from or 
excluding the rest of men, not as representing all indi- 
vidual men, but as One from whom they are shut off, 
though he no longer appears as representing the poten- 
tiality or true essence which is above, but as individuality 
in the region of certaintv. 



74 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

It is with this certainty and sensuous view that we 
are concerned, and not merely with a divine teacher, 
nor indeed simply with morality, nor even in any way 
simply with a teacher of this Idea either. It is not 
with ordinary thought or with conviction that we have 
got to do, but with this immediate presence and cer- 
tainty of the Divine ; for the immediate certainty of 
what is present represents the infinite form and mode 
which the "Is" takes for the natural consciousness. 
This Is destroys all trace of mediation ; it is the final 
point, the last touch of light which is laid on. This 
Is is wanting in mediation of any kind such as is 
given through feeling, pictorial ideas, reasons ; and it 
is only in philosophical knowledge, by means of the 
Notion only in the element of universality, that it re- 
turns again. 

The Divine is not to be conceived of merely as a 
universal thought, or as something inward and having 
potential existence only ; the objectifying of the Divine 
is not to be conceived of simply as the objective form it 
takes in all men, for in that case it would be conceived 
of simply as representing the manifold forms of the 
Spiritual in general, and the development which the 
Absolute Spirit has in itself and which has to advance 
till it reaches the form of what is the form of imme- 
diacy, would not be contained in it. 

The One we find in the Jewish religion exists in 
thought, not in the form of sense-perception, and conse- 
quently has not reached the perfect form of Spirit. It 
is just this attaining of a complete and perfect form 
in Spirit which we call subjectivity, which endlessly 
alienates or estranges itself, and then from this abso- 
lute opposition, from the furthest point of manifestation, 
returns to itself. 

The principle of individuality, it is true, was already 
present in the Greek ideal, but there it was wanting just 
in that universal essentially existing infinitude ; the Uni- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 75 

versal as Universal is posited only in tlie subjectivity 
of consciousness ; it is this subjectivity only which is 
infinite inner movement, in which all the determinate- 
ness of definite existence is cancelled, and which at 
the same time is present in existence in its most finite 
form. 

This individual, accordingly, who represents for others 
the manifestation of the Idea, is a particular Only One, 
not some ones, for the Divine in some would become an 
abstraction. The idea of some is a miserable superfluity 
of reflection, a superfluity because opposed to the con- 
ception or notion of individual subjectivity. In the 
Notion once is always, and the subject must turn exclu- 
sively to one subjectivity. In the eternal Idea there is 
only one Son, and thus there is only One in whom the 
absolute Idea appears, and this One excludes the others. 
It is this perfect development of reality thus embodied ' 
in immediate individuality or separateness which is the 
finest feature of the Christian religion, and the absolute 
transfiguration of the finite gets in it a form in which it 
can be outwardly perceived. 

This characteristic, namely, that God becomes Man, 
and consequently that the finite spirit has the conscious- 
ness of God in the finite itself, represents what is the 
most difficult moment of religion. According to a 
common idea, which we find amongst the ancients 
particularly, the spirit or soul has been forced into this 
world as into an element which is foreign to it ; this 
indwelling of the soul in the body, and this particu- 
larisation in the form of individuality, are held to be a 
degradation of Spirit. In this is involved the idea of 
the untruth of the purely material side, of immediate 
existence. On the other hand, however, the charac- 
teristic of immediate existence is at the same time an 
essential characteristic, it is the final tapering point of 
Spirit in its subjectivity. Man has spiritual interests 
and is spiritually active ; he can feel that he is hindered 



76 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

in connection with these interests and activities ; in so 
far as he feels himself to be in a condition of physical 
dependence, and has to provide for his own support, 
&c., his thoughts are taken away from his spiritual in- 
terests through his being bound to Nature. The stage 
of immediate existence is, however, contained in Spirit 
itself. The essential characteristic of Spirit is that it 
should advance to this stage. The natural life is not 
simply an external necessity ; on the contrary, Spirit, as 
subject in its infinite reference to itself, has the charac- 
teristic of immediacy in it. In so far, accordingly, as the 
nature of Spirit happens to be revealed to Man, the 
nature of God in the entire development of the Idea 
must be revealed, and thus this form must also be 
present here, and that is just the form of finitude. The 
Divine must appear in the form of immediacy. This 
immediate presence is merely a presence of the Spiritual 
in that spiritual form which is the human form. This 
manifestation is not true when it takes any other form, 
certainly not when it is a manifestation of God in the 
burning bush, and the like. God appears as an indivi- 
dual person to whose immediacy all kinds of physical 
necessities are attached. In Indian pantheism a count- 
less number of incarnations occur ; there subjectivity, 
human existence, is only an accidental form ; in God it 
is simply a mask which Substance adopts and changes in 
an accidental way. God as Spirit, however, contains in 
Himself the moment of subjectivity, of singleness ; His 
manifestation, accordingly, can only be a single one, can 
take place only once. 

In the Church Christ has been called the God-Man. 
This is the extraordinary combination which directly con- 
tradicts the Understanding ; but the unity of the divine 
and human natures has here been brought into human 
consciousness and has become a certainty for it, implying 
that the otherness, or, as it is also expressed, the fini- 
tude, the weakness, the frailty of human nature is not 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 77 

incompatible with this unity, just as in the eternal 
Idea otherness in no way detracts from the unity which 
God is. 

This is the extraordinary combination the necessity of 
which we have seen. It involves the truth that the 
divine and human natures are not implicitly different. 
God in human form. The truth is that there is only 
one reason, one Spirit, that Spirit as finite has no true 
existence. 

The substantiality of the form of manifestation is un- 
folded or made explicit. Because it is the manifestation 
of God, it is essentially for the community of believers. 
Manifestation means Being for an Other, and this other 
is the community of believers. 

This historical manifestation may, however, be looked at 
in two different ways. On the one hand, it may be held 
to be Man as he is in his outward condition in the sense 
of ordinary Man, the sense in which Man is taken in the 
irreligious way of regarding this manifestation. Then, 
on the other hand, it may be looked at in spirit or in 
a spiritual way, and with the spirit, which presses on 
to reach its truth, and which, just because it has this 
infinite division, this sorrow within itself, wills the truth, 
wills to have, and must have, the need of truth and the 
certainty of truth. This is the true way of regarding 
the manifestation so far as religion is concerned. We 
must distinguish between these two standpoints the 
immediate way of looking at the question, and the way 
followed by faith. 

By ^aitji this individual is known to possess divine 
nature, whereby God ceases to be a Being beyond this 
world. When Christ is looked at in the same way as 
Socrates is, He is looked at as an ordinary man, just as 
the Mohammedans consider Christ as God's ambassador 
in the general sense in which all great men are God's 
ambassadors or messengers. If we say nothing more of 
Christ than that He was a teacher of humanity, a martyr 



78 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

for the truth, we do not occupy the Christian standpoint, 
the standpoint of the true religion. 

The one side is this human side, this appearance of 
one who was a living man. As an immediate or natural 
man he is subject to the contingency which belongs to 
outward things, to all temporal relations and conditions ; 
he is born, as Man he has the needs which all other men 
have except that he does not share in the corruption, 
the passions, the particular inclinations of men, in the 
special interests of the worldly life in connection with 
which uprightness and moral teaching may also find a 
place ; on the contrary, he lives only for the truth and 
the proclamation of the truth, his activity consists simply 
in fulfilling the higher consciousness of men. 

It is to this human side, therefore, that the doctrine 
of Christ chiefly belongs. The question is, How can such 
doctrine exist, and in what way is it formed ? The 
doctrine in its first form cannot have been composed 
of the same elements as afterwards appeared in the doc- 
trine of the Church. It must have certain peculiarities 
which in the Church of necessity partly receive another 
signification and are partly dropped. Christ's teaching 
in its immediate form cannot be Christian Dogmatics, 
cannot be Church-doctrine. When the Christian com- 
munity has been set up, when the Kingdom of God has 
attained reality and a definite existence, this teaching 
can no longer have the same signification as before. 

The principal contents of this teaching can only be 
general and abstract. If something new, a new world, 
a new religion, a new conception of God, is to be given 
to the world of ordinary thought, then the first thing 
needed is the general sphere of ideas in which this 
can show itself, and the second thing is the particular, 
the determinate, the concrete. The world of ordinary 
thought, in so far as it thinks, thinks merely abstractly, 
it thinks only what is general ; it is reserved for Spirit, 
which comprehends things through the Notion, to recognise 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 79 

the particular in the general, and to see how this particular 
proceeds out of the Notion by its own power. For the 
world of ordinary or popular thought, the basis on which 
universal Thought rests, and particularisation, develop- 
ment, are separated. This general or universal basis 
may therefore be made use of for the true notion of God, 
by means of doctrine. 

Since what we have got to do with is a new conscious- 
ness on the part of men, a new religion, it is for that 
reason the consciousness of absolute reconciliation ; this 
involves a new world, a new religion, a new reality, a 
world in a different condition, for it is religion which is 
the substantial element in external determinate Being 
or existence. 

This is the negative or polemical side, as against 
continuance in this externality on the part of the con- 
sciousness or faith of Man. The new religion declares 
itself to be a new consciousness, a consciousness of the 
reconciliation of Man with God; this reconciliation as 
expressing a condition is the Kingdom of God, the 
Eternal as the home of Spirit, a real world in which 
God reigns ; the spirits, the hearts here are reconciled 
with Him, and thus it is God who has attained to 
authority over them. This so far represents the general 
sphere or basis. 

This Kingdom of God, the new religion, thus contains 
within itself the characteristic of negation in reference 
to all that is actual. This is the revolutionary side of 
its teaching which partly throws aside all that actually 
exists, and partly destroys and overthrows it. All earthly 
and worldly things drop away as being without value, 
and are expressly declared to be valueless. What has 
hitherto existed is altered, the hitherto existing relations, 
the condition of religion and of the world, cannot remain 
as they have hitherto been. What, therefore, has to be 
done is to get Man who must reach a consciousness 
of reconciliation drawn out of his present condition, 



So THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and to get him to seek after this abstraction or with- 
drawal from actual reality. 

This new religion as yet concentrates itself, and does 
not actually exist as a church or community of believers, 
but shows itself rather in that energy which constitutes 
the sole interest of the man who has to fight and struggle 
in order to obtain this new condition, because it is not yet 
in harmony with the actual state of the world, and is not 
yet brought into connection with his world-consciousness. 

This new religion, therefore, on its first appearance pre- 
sents a polemical aspect, involves a demand that finite things 
should be abandoned ; it demands that Man should rise to 
the exercise of an infinite energy in which the Universal 
demands that it should be laid hold of for its own sake, 
and in which all other ties have to be treated as matters 
of indifferencej and all that had hitherto been regarded 
as moral and right, all other ties, have to be put aside. 

" Who is my mother and my brother ?" &c. " Let the 
dead bury their dead," &c. " Whoever puts his hand to 
the plough and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom 
of God." " I am come to bring a sword," &c. In these 
words we see how a polemic is directed against all 
ordinary moral relations " Take no thought for the 
morrow," " Give your goods to the poor." 

All those relations which have reference to property, 
disappear ; meanwhile they in turn cancel themselves, for 
if everything is given to the poor then there are no poor. 
All this represents doctrines and special characteristics 
which belong to the first appearance of the new religion 
when it constitutes man's sole interest, which he must 
believe he is as yet in danger of losing, and when its 
teaching is addressed to men with whom the world is 
done and who are done with the world. The one side 
is represented by this renunciation ; this giving up, 
this slighting of every substantial interest and of moral 
ties, is an essential characteristic of the concentrated 
manifestation of truth, a characteristic which subse- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 81 

quently, when truth has attained a sure existence, loses 
some of its importance. In fact, if this religion at its 
start as suffering, appears in relation to what is outside 
of it as willing to endure, to yield, to submit to death, 
in course of time, when it has grown strong, its inner 
energy will act towards what is outside of it with a cor- 
respondingly violent display of force. 

The next thing in the affirmative part of this religion 
is the proclamation of the Kingdom of God ; into this 
Kingdom, as representing the Kingdom of love to God, 
Man has to transport himself, and he does this by directly 
devoting himself to the truth it embodies. This is ex- 
pressed with the most absolute and startling frankness, 
as, for instance, at the beginning of the so-called Sermon 
on the Mount : " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they 
shall see God." Words like these are amongst the grandest 
that have ever been uttered. They represent a final central 
point in which all superstition and all want of freedom on 
Man's part are done away with. It is of infinite import- 
ance that, by Luther's translation of the Bible, a popular 
book has been put into the hands of the people, in which 
the heart, the spirit can find itself at home in the very 
highest, in fact in an infinite way ; in Catholic countries 
there is in this respect a grave want. For Protestant 
peoples the Bible supplies a means of deliverance from 
all spiritual slavery. 

There is no mention of any mediation in connection 
with this elevating of the spirit whereby it may become 
an accomplished fact in Man ; but, on the contrary, the 
mere statement of what is required implies this imme- 
diate Being, this immediate self-transference into Truth, 
into the Kingdom of God. It is to the intellectual and 
spiritual world, to the Kingdom of God, that Man ought 
to belong, and in it it is feeling or moral disposition 
alone which has value, but not abstract feeling, not mere 
chance opinion, but that absolute feeling or disposition 
which has its basis in the Kingdom of God. It is in 

VOL. III. F 



82 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

connection with this Kingdom of God that the infinite 
worth of inwardness first comes into view. This is 
proclaimed in the language of enthusiasm, in tones so 
penetrating as to thrill the soul, and, as Hermes the 
psychagogue did, to draw it out of the body and bear it 
away beyond the temporal into its eternal home. " Seek 
first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." 

Along with this elevation above, and complete abstrac- 
tion from all that the world counts great, we everywhere 
find in Christ's teaching a lament over the degradation of 
His nation, and of men in general. Jesus appeared at a 
time when the Jewish nation, owing to the dangers to 
which its worship had been exposed and was still exposed, 
was more obstinately absorbed in its observance than ever, 
and was at the same time compelled to despair of seeing 
its hopes actually realised since it had come in contact 
with a universal humanity, the existence of which it could 
no longer deny, and which nevertheless was completely 
devoid of any spiritual element He appeared, in short, 
when the common people were in perplexity and helpless. 

" I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and 
prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." 

Accordingly, this substantial element, this universal 
divine heaven of the inner life, leads, under the influence 
of reflection of a more definite kind, to moral commands 
which are the application of that universal element to 
particular circumstances and situations. These commands, 
however, themselves partly apply only to limited spheres 
of action, and are partly intended for those stages in 
which we are occupied with absolute truth ; they contain 
nothing striking, or else they are already contained in 
other religions and in the Jewish religion. These com- 
mands are comprised in the command of Love as their 
central point, love which has for its aim, not the rights, 
but the well-being of the other, and thus expresses a 
relation to its particular object. " Love thy neighbour 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 83 

as thyself." This command, thought of in the abstract 
and more extended sense as embracing the love of men 
in general, is a command to love all men. Taken in this 
sense, however, it is turned into an abstraction. The 
people whom one can love, and for whom our love is 
real, are a few particular individuals ; the heart which 
seeks to embrace the whole of humanity within itself 
indulges in a vain attempt to spread out its love until 
it becomes a mere idea, the opposite of real love. 

Love, in the sense in which Christ understood it, is 
primarily moral love of our neighbour in those particular 
relations in which we stand to him ; but, above all, it is 
meant to express the relation existing between His dis- 
ciples and followers, the bond which makes them one. 
And here it is not to be understood as meaning that each 
is to have his particular occupation, interests, and rela- 
tions in life, and is further to love in addition to all this, 
but that this love, as something apart which abstracts 
from all else, is to be the central point in which they live, 
and is to constitute their business. 

They are to love one another, nothing more or less, and 
consequently are not to have any particular end in view 
whatever, ends connected with the family, political ends, 
nor are they to love because of these particular ends. 
Love, on the contrary, is abstract personality, and the 
identity of this in one consciousness in which it is not 
any longer possible for special ends to exist. Here, 
therefore, no other objective end exists unless this love. 
This love, which is independent, and which is thus made 
a centre, finally becomes the higher divine love itself. 

At first, however, this love, as a love which as yet has 
no objective end, also takes up a polemical attitude to the 
existing order of things, especially to the Jewish existing 
order. All those actions commanded by the Law by the 
doing of which apart from love, men formerly estimated 
their moral worth, are declared to be dead works, and 
Christ Himself heals on the Sabbath. 



84 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The following moment or determinate element accord- 
ingly enters into these doctrines. While this command 
of love is directly expressed in the words, " Seek the 
Kingdom of God," abandon yourself to the truth; and 
while the demand is made in this immediate way, it 
appears as if in the form of a subjective statement, and 
so far the person speaking comes into view. 

In accordance with this reference to a person, Christ 
does not speak as a teacher merely who states his own 
subjective view, and who is conscious of what he pro- 
duces in the way of truth and of his own action in the 
matter, but as a prophet ; He is one who, since this 
demand is direct, utters the command directly from God, 
and as one out of whom God thus speaks. 

The fact that this possession of this life of the spirit 
in truth is attained without intermediate helps, is ex- 
pressed in the prophetic manner, namely, that it is God 
who thus speaks. Here it is with absolute, divine truth, 
truth in-and-for-itself, that we are concerned ; this utter- 
ance and willing of the truth in-and-for-itself, and the 
carrying out of what is thus expressed, is described as an 
act of God, it is the consciousness of the real unity of the 
divine will, of its harmony with the truth. It is as 
conscious of this elevation of His spirit, and in the assur- 
ance of His identity with God that Christ says, " Woman, 
thy sins are forgiven thee." Here there speaks in Him 
that overwhelming majesty which can undo everything, 
and actually declares that this has been done. 

So far as the form of this utterance is concerned, what 
has mainly to be emphasised is that He who thus speaks 
is at the same time essentially Man, it is the Son of Man 
who thus speaks, in whom this utterance of the truth, this 
carrying into practice of what is absolute and essential, 
this activity on God's part, is essentially seen to exist as 
in one who is a man and not something superhuman, 
not something which appears in the form of an outward 
revelation in short, the main stress is to be laid on the 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 8$ 

fact that this divine presence is essentially identical with 
what is human. 

Christ calls Himself the Son of God and the Son of 
Man ; these titles are to be taken in their strict meaning. 
The Arabs mutually describe themselves as the son of a 
certain tribe ; Christ belongs to the human race ; that is 
His tribe. Christ is also the Son of God ; it is possible 
to explain away by exegesis the true sense of this expres- 
sion, the truth of the Idea, what Christ has been for His 
Church, and the higher Idea of the truth which has been 
found in Him in His Church, and to say that all the 
children of men are children of God, or are meant to 
make themselves children of God, and so on. 

Since, however, the teaching of Christ taken by itself 
belongs to the world of ordinary figurative ideas only, and 
takes to do with inner feeling and disposition, it is sup- 
plemented by the representation of the Divine Idea in 
His life and fate. That Kingdom of God, as constituting 
the content of Christ's teaching, is at first the Idea in a 
general form, represented as yet in a general conception ; 
it is by means of this individual man that it enters into 
the region of reality, so that those who are to reach that 
Kingdom can do it through that one individual. 

The primary point is, to start with, the abstract cor- 
respondence between the acts, deeds, and sufferings of this 
teacher, and His own teaching, the fact that His life was 
wholly devoted to carrying it out, that He did not shun 
death, and that He sealed His faith by His death. The 
fact that Christ became a martyr for the truth has an 
intimate connection with His appearing thus on the earth. 
Since the founding of the Kingdom of God is in direct 
contradiction with the actually existing State, which is 
based on a different view of religion, and which ascribes a 
different character to it, the fate of Christ, whereby to 
put it in human language He became a martyr for the 
truth, is in close connection with the manner of His 
appearing above referred to. 



86 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

These are the principal elements in the manifestation 
of Christ in a human form. This teacher gathered friends 
around Him. Inasmuch as His doctrines were revolution- 
ary Christ was accused and condemned, and so He sealed 
the truth of His teaching by His death. Even unbelief goes 
this length in the view it takes of His history ; it is exactly 
similar to that of Socrates, only in different surroundings. 
Socrates, too, made men conscious of the inwardness 
of their nature. His Saijmovtov is nothing else than this 
inner life. He, too, taught that Man must not stop 
short with obedience to ordinary authority, but form 
convictions for himself, and act in accordance with these 
convictions. These two individualities are similar, and 
their fates are also similar. The inwardness of Socrates 
was in direct opposition to the religious belief of his 
nation, and to the form of government, and consequently 
he was condemned ; he, too, died for the truth. 

Christ lived merely amongst a different people, and 
His teaching has so far a different complexion. But the 
Kingdom of God and the idea of purity of heart contain 
an infinitely greater depth of truth than the inwardness of 
Socrates. This is the outward history of Christ, which is 
for unbelief just what the history of Socrates is for us. 
^ With the death of Christ, however, there begins the 
conversion of consciousness. The death of Christ is the 
central point round which all else turns, and in the con- 
ception formed of it lies the difference between the out- 
ward way of conceiving of it and Faith, i.e., regarding it 
with the spirit, taking our start from the spirit of truth, 
from the Holy Spirit. According to the comparison above 
referred to, Christ is a man just like Socrates, a teacher 
who lived virtuously, and made men conscious of what 
is essentially true, of what must constitute the basis of 
human consciousness. According to the higher way of 
regarding the matter, however, the divine nature was 
revealed in Christ. This consciousness is reflected in those 
passages which state that the Son knows the Father, &c., 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 87 

expressions which, to begin with, have in themselves a 
certain generality, and which exegesis can transfer to the 
region of general views, but which Faith by its explana- 
tion of the death of Christ lays hold of in their true 
meaning ; for Faith is essentially the consciousness of 
absolute truth, of what God is in His true nature. But 
we have already seen what God is in His true essential 
nature ; He is the life-process, the Trinity, in which the 
Universal puts itself into antithesis with itself, and is in 
this antithesis identical with itself. God in this element 
of eternity represents what encloses itself in union with 
itself, the enclosing of Himself with Himself. Faith 
simply lays hold of the thought and has the consciousness 
that in Christ this absolute essential truth is perceived 
in the process of its development, and that it is through 
Him that this truth has first been revealed. 

This view represents, to begin with, the religious 
attitude as such, in which the Divine is itself an es- 
sential moment. This anticipation, this imagining, this 
willing of a new Kingdom, " a new heaven and a new 
earth," of a new world, is found amongst those friends 
and acquaintances who have been taught the truth ; this 
hope, this certainty has made its way into the real part 
of their hearts, has sunk into their inmost hearts as a 
reality. 

Accordingly the Passion, the death of Christ does away 
with the human side of Christ's nature, and it is just in 
connection with this death that the transition is made 
into the religious sphere ; and here the question comes to 
be as to how this death is to be conceived of. On the 
one hand, it is a natural death brought about by injustice, 
hate, and violence ; on the other hand, however, believers 
are already firmly convinced in their hearts and feelings 
that they are not here specially concerned with morality, 
with the thinking and willing of the subject in itself or as 
starting from itself, but that the real point of importance 
is an infinite relation to God, to God as actually present, 



88 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the certainty of the Kingdom of God, a sense of satisfac- 
tion not in morality, nor even in anything ethical, nor in 
the conscience, but a sense of satisfaction beyond which 
there can be nothing higher, an absolute relation to God 
Himself. 

All other modes of satisfaction imply that in some 
aspect or other they are of a subordinate sort, and thus 
the relation of Man to God does not get beyond being 
a relation to something above, and distant, to some- 
thing, in fact, which is not actually present at all. The 
fundamental characteristic of this Kingdom of God is 
the presence of God, meaning that the members of this 
Kingdom are not only expected to have love to men, but 
to have the consciousness that God is Love. 

This implies, in fact, that God is present, and that this as 
personal feeling must be the feeling of the individual Self. 
This aspect of the truth is represented by the Kingdom 
of God, or the presence of God, and it is to it that the 
certainty of the presence of God belongs. Since it is, on 
the one hand, a need, a feeling, the subject must, on the 
other hand, distinguish itself from it, must make a dis- 
tinction between this presence of God and itself, but in 
such a way that this presence of God will be something 
certain, and this certainty can actually exist here only in 
the form of sensuous manifestation. 

The eternal Idea itself means that the characteristic of 
subjectivity as real, as distinguished from what are simply 
thoughts, is permitted to appear in an immediate form. 
On the other hand, it is faith begotten by the sorrow of 
the world, and resting on the testimony of the Spirit, 
which explains the life of Christ. The teaching of Christ 
and His miracles are conceived of and understood in 
connection with this witness of the Spirit. The history 
of Christ is related, too, by those upon whom the Spirit 
has been already poured out. The miracles are conceived 
of and related under the influence of this Spirit, and the 
death of Christ is truly understood by this Spirit to mean 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 89 

that in Christ God is revealed together with the unity of 
the Divine and human natures. Christ's death is ac- 
cordingly the touchstone, so to speak, by means of which 
Faith verifies its belief, since it is essentially here that its 
way of understanding the appearance of Christ makes 
itself manifest. Christ's death primarily means that 
Christ was the God-Man, the God who had at the same 
time human nature, even unto death. It is the lot of 
finite humanity to die ; death is the most complete proof 
of humanity, of absolute finitude, and Christ in fact died 
the aggravated death of the evil-doer ; He did not only die 
a natural death, but a death even of shame and dishonour 
on the cross ; in Him humanity was carried to its furthest 
point. 

In connection with this death \ve have to notice first of 
all what is one of its special characteristics, namely, its 
polemical attitude towards outward things. Not only is 
the act whereby the natural will yields itself up here 
represented in a sensible form, but all that is peculiar to 
the individual, all those interests and personal ends with 
which the natural will can occupy itself, all that is great 
and counted as of value in the world, is at the same time 
buried in the grave of the Spirit. This is the revolu- 
tionary element by means of which the world is given 
a totally new form. And yet in this yielding up of the 
natural will, the finite, the Other-Being or otherness, is at 
the same time transfigured. Other-Being or otherness 
has in fact besides its immediate natural being a more 
extended sphere of existence and a further determination. 
It belongs essentially to the definite existence of the sub- 
ject that it should exist for others ; the subject exists not 
only on its own account or for itself, but exists also in 
the idea formed of it by others, it exists, has value, and 
is objective to the extent to which it is able to assert its 
claim to exist amongst others and has a valid existence. 
Its validity is the idea formed of it by others, and is based 
on a comparison with what they hold to be of value 



90 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and what is regarded by them as possessing the worth of 
something potential or essential. 

Since, accordingly, the death of Christ, in addition to 
the fact that it is natural death, is, further, the death of 
an evil-doer, the most degrading of all deaths, death upon 
the cross, it involves not only what is natural, but also 
civil degradation, worldly dishonour; the cross is trans- 
figured, what according to the common idea is lowest, 
what the State characterises as degrading, is transformed 
into what is highest. Death is natural, every man must 
die. But since degradation is made the highest honour, 
all those ties that bind human society together are attacked 
in their foundations, are shaken and dissolved. When the 
cross has been elevated to the place of a banner, and is 
made a banner in fact, the positive content of which is 
at the same time the Kingdom of God, inner feeling is in 
the very heart of its nature detached from civil and state 
life, and the substantial basis of this latter is taken 
away, so that the whole structure has no longer any 
reality, but is an empty appearance, which must soon 
come crashing down, and make manifest in actual exist- 
ence that it is no longer anything having inherent 
existence. Imperial power, on its part, degraded all that 
was esteemed and valued by men. The life of every 
individual depended on the caprice of the Emperor, and 
this caprice was not limited by anything either without 
or within. But, besides life, all virtue, worth, age, rank, 
race, everything, in short, was utterly degraded. The 
slave of the Emperor was next to him the highest power 
in the State, or had even more power than the Emperor 
himself ; the Senate debased itself in proportion as it 
was debased by the Emperor. Thus the majesty of 
world-empire, together with all virtue, justice, veneration 
for institutions and constituted things, the majesty of 
everything, in short, held by the world as of value was 
pitched into the gutter. Thus the temporal ruler of the 
earth, on his part, changed what was highest into what 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 91 

was most despised, and fundamentally perverted feeling, 
so that in man's inner life there no longer remained 
anything to set against the new religion, which in its 
turn raised what had been most despised to the place of 
what was highest, and made it a banner. Everything 
established, everything moral, everything considered by 
ordinary opinion as of value and possessed of authority, 
was destroyed, and all that was left to the existing order 
of things, towards which the new religion took up a 
position of antagonism, was the purely external, cold 
power, namely, death, which life, ennobled by feeling that 
in its inner nature it was infinite now, no longer in any 
way dreaded. 

Now, however, a further determination comes into 
play God has died, God is dead, this is the most 
frightful of all thoughts, that all that is eternal, all that 
is true is not, that negation itself is found in God ; the 
deepest sorrow, the feeling of something completely irre- 
trievable, the renunciation of everything of a higher kind, 
are connected with this. The course of thought does 
not, however, stop short here ; on the contrary, thought 
begins to retrace its steps : God, that is to say, maintains 
Himself in this process, and the latter is only the death t_ 
of death. God comes to life again, and thus things are 
reversed. 1 The Eesurrection is something which thus 

1 This is the meaning of the resurrection and the ascension of Christ. 
Like all that goes before, this elevation of Christ to heaven outwardly 
appears for the immediate or natural consciousness in the mode of reality. 
" Thou wilt not leave Thy righteous one in the grave ; Thou wilt not suffer 
Thine Holy One to see corruption." This is the form, too, in which this 
death of death, the overcoming of the grave, the triumph over the negative, 
and this elevation to heaven appear to sense-perception. This triumphing 
over the negative is not, however, a putting off of human nature, but, on 
the contrary, is its most complete preservation in death itself and in the 
highest love. Spirit is Spirit only in so far as it is this negative of the 
negative which thus contains the negative in itself. When, accordingly, 
the Son of Man sits on the right hand of the Father, we see that in this 
exaltation of human nature its glory consists, and its identity with the 
divine nature appears to the spiritual eye in the highest possible way. 
(From the sheets in Hegel's own handwriting belonging to the year 1821.) 



92 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

essentially belongs to faith. After His resurrection 
Christ appeared only to His friends ; this is not outward 
history for unbelief, but, on the contrary, this appearing 
of Christ is for faith only. The resurrection is followed 
by the glorification of Christ ; and the triumph of His 
exaltation to the right hand of God closes this part of 
His history, which, as thus understood by believing con- 
sciousness, is the unfolding of the Divine nature itself. 
If in the first division of the subject we conceived of 
God as He is in pure thought, in this second division we 
start from immediacy as it exists for sense - perception 
and for ideas based on sense. The process is accordingly 
this, that immediate particularity is done away with and 
absorbed ; and just as in the first region of thought, 
God's state of seclusion came to an end, and His primary 
immediacy as abstract universality, according to which 
He is the Essence of Essences, was annulled, so here the 
abstraction of humanity, the immediacy of existing parti- 
cularity, is annulled, and this is brought about by death ; 
the death of Christ, however, is the death of death, the 
negation of the negation. We have had in the Kingdom of 
the Father the same course and process in the unfolding of 
God's nature ; here, however, the process is explained in 
so far as it is an object for consciousness. For here there 
existed the impulse to form a mental picture of the divine 
nature. In connection with the death of Christ we have 
finally to emphasise the moment according to which it is 
God who has killed death, since He comes out of the 
state of death : this means that finitude, human nature, 
and humiliation are attributed to Christ as something 
foreign to His nature, which is that of one who is God 
pure and simple ; it is shown that fiuitude is something 
foreign to His nature, and has been adopted by Him 
from an Other; this Other is represented by men who 
stand over against the divine process. It is their fini- 
4 tude which Christ has taken upon Himself, this finitude 
in all its forms, and which at its furthest extreme is 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 93 

represented by Evil ; this humanity, which is itself a 
moment in the divine life, is now characterised as some- 
thing foreign to God, as something which does not belong 
to His nature ; this finitude, however, in its condition 
of Being-for-self, or as existing independently in relation 
to God, is evil, something foreign to God's nature ; He 
has, however, taken our finite nature in order to slay it 
by His death. His shameful death, as representing the 
marvellous union of these absolute extremes, is at the 
same time infinite love. 

It is a proof of infinite love that God identified Him- 
self with what was foreign to His nature in order to slay 
it. This is the signification of the death of Christ. 
Christ has borne the sins of the world, He has recon- 
ciled God to us, as it is said. 

This death is thus at once finitude in its most extreme 
form, and at the same time the abolition and absorption of 
natural finitude, of immediate existence and estrangement, 
the cancelling of limits. This abolition and absorption 
of the natural is to be conceived of in a spiritual sense 
as essentially meaning that the movement of Spirit con- 
sists in comprehending itself in itself, in dying to the 
natural, that it is therefore abstraction from immediate 
volition and immediate consciousness, an act of sinking 
into itself, and then an act whereby it itself draws out of 
this depth into which it has plunged what is merely its 
own specific character, its true essence, and its absolute 
universality. What has for it worth, and all that con- 
stitutes its value, it finds only in this abolition of its 
natural Being and will. The suffering and the sorrow 
connected with this death which contains this element of 
the reconciliation of Spirit with itself and with what it 
potentially is, this negative moment which belongs to 
Spirit only as Spirit, is inner conversion and change. 
Here, however, death is not brought before us with this 
concrete meaning, but is represented as natural death, for 
in the Divine Idea that negation cannot be exhibited 



94 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

under any other form. When the eternal history of Spirit 
exhibits itself in an outward way, in the sphere of the 
natural, Evil which realises itself in the Divine Idea can 
appear only in the form of the Natural, and thus the 
reversion which takes place can have only the form of 
natural death. The Divine Idea cannot proceed beyond 
this characteristic of the natural. This death, however, 
although it is natural, is the death of God, and thus 
sufficient as an atonement for us, since it exhibits the 
absolute history of the Divine Idea, what has implicitly 
taken place and takes place eternally. 

That the individual man does something, attains to 
something, and accomplishes it, is owing to the fact that 
this is how the matter stands regarding the true reality 
looked at from the point of view of its Notion. The 
fact, for example, that any particular criminal can b3 
punished by the judge, and that this punishment is the 
carrying out and expiation of the law, does not imply 
that it is the judge who does this, or that the criminal 
does it by undergoing the punishment as a particular 
outward event ; but, on the contrary, what takes place is 
in accordance with the nature of the thing or true fact, 
with the necessity of the Notion. We thus have this 
process before us in a double form : on the one hand, we 
have it in thought, in the idea embodied in law, and in 
the Notion ; and, on the other, in one particular instance, 
and in this particular instance the process is what it is 
because this belongs to the nature of the thing, and apart 
from this neither the action of the judge nor the suffering 
undergone by the criminal would represent the punish- 
ment inflicted by the law and the expiation it demands. 
The fundamental reason, the substantial element, belongs 
to the nature of the thing. 

Accordingly this is how it stands, too, with that satis- 
faction or atonement for us above referred to, i.e., what 
lies at the basis of that idea is that this atonement has 
actually and completely taken place, has taken place 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 95 

in-and-for-itself ; it is not a strange sacrifice, a sacrifice 
of what is foreign to man which has been offered, it is 
not an Other who has been punished in order that there 
might be punishment. Each one must for himself, start- 
ing from his own subjectivity and responsibility, do and 
be what he ought to be. But what he thus is for him- 
self must not be anything accidental, or be his own 
caprice ; it must, on the contrary, be something true. 
When he thus accomplishes within himself this con- 
version and the yielding up of the natural will, and lives 
in love, this represents the essential fact, the thing in- 
and-for-itself. His subjective certainty, his feeling, is 
truth, it is the truth and the nature of the Spirit. The 
basis of redemption is thus contained in the history 
spoken of, for it represents the essential thing or fact, 
the thing as it is in-and-for-itself ; it is not an accidental 
special act and occurrence, but is true and complete. 
This proof of its truth is the pictorial view given of it in 
the history referred to, and according to that representa- 
tion the individual lays hold of, appropriates the merit 
of Christ. It is not, however, the history of one indivi- 
dual ; on the contrary, it is God who accomplishes what 
is told in it ; i.e., the view which it gives is that this 
history is the universal and absolute history, the history 
which is for itself. 

Other forms, for example, of the sacrificial offering, 
with which is connected the false idea that God is a 
tyrant who desires sacrifice, reduce themselves to that 
conception of sacrifice which has been stated, and are to 
be corrected by it. Sacrifice means the abolition and 
absorption of naturalness, of Otherness. It is further 
said that Christ died for all, and this does not represent 
an individual act, but the divine eternal history. It is 
said in the same way that in Him all have died. This 
is itself a moment in the nature of God ; it has taken 
place in God Himself. God cannot find satisfaction 
through anything other than Himself, but only through 



Himself. This death is love itself, expressed as a moment 
of God, and it is this death which brings about recon- 
ciliation. In it we have a picture of absolute love. It 
is the identity of the Divine and the human, it implies 
that in the finite God is at home with Himself, and this 
finite as seen in death is itself a determination belonging 
to God. God has through death reconciled the world, 
and reconciled it eternally with Himself. This coming- 
back from the state of estrangement is His return to 
Himself, and it is because of it that He is Spirit, and 
the third point accordingly is that Christ has risen. 
Negation is consequently surmounted, and the negation 
of the negation is thus a moment of the Divine nature. 

Suffering and dying taken in this sense are ideas 
opposed to the doctrine of moral imputation according 
to which each individual has to stand for himself only, 
and each is the doer of his own deeds. The fate of 
Christ seems to contradict this imputation ; this imputa- 
tion, however, has a place only in the sphere of finitude, 
where the subject is regarded as a single person, and not 
in the sphere of free Spirit. The characteristic idea in 
the region of finitude is that each remains what he is ; if 
he has done evil, he is evil ; evil is in him as represent- 
ing his quality. But already in the sphere of morality, 
and still more in that of religion, Spirit is known to be 
free, to be affirmative in itself, so that the element of 
limit in it which gets the length of evil is a nullity for the 
infinitude of Spirit ; Spirit can make what has happened 
as if it had not happened ; the action certainly remains 
in the memory, but Spirit puts it away. Imputation, 
therefore, does not reach to this sphere. For the true 
consciousness of Spirit the finitude of Man is slain in 
the death of Christ. This death of the natural gets in 
this way a universal signification, the finite, evil, in fact, 
is destroyed. The world is thus reconciled, and through 
this death the world is implicitly freed from its evil. It 
is in connection with a true understanding of the death of 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 97 

Christ that the relation of the subject as such in this 
way comes into view. Here any mere outward con- 
sideration of the history ceases ; the subject is itself 
drawn into the process ; it feels the pain of evil and of 
its own alienation, which Christ has taken upon Himself 
by putting on humanity, while at the same time destroying 
it by His death. 

Since the content, too, just consists in this, we have 
here the religious side of the subject, and it is in it that 
the Spiritual Community, or the Church, first originates. 
This content is the same thing as what is termed the 
outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is Spirit which has 
revealed this ; the relation to men simply as men is 
changed into a relation which is altered and transformed 
into a relation which is entirely one of Spirit, and is 
of such a kind that the nature of God unfolds itself in 
it, and this truth comes to have immediate certainty in 
accordance with the form of outward manifestation. 

Here, accordingly, he who at first was regarded as a 
teacher, a friend, a martyr, comes to have a totally dif- 
ferent position. Up to this point we have had simply 
the beginning, which is now carried forward by the Spirit 
so as to form a result, an end, truth. The death of 
Christ is in one aspect the death of a man, of a friend 
who met his death by violence, &c. ; but then it is just 
this death which, when conceived of in a spiritual way, 
becomes the means of salvation and the central point of 
reconciliation. 

The perception of the nature of Spirit, that is, the 
presentation of the satisfaction of the need of Spirit, in 
a sensuous way, was accordingly what was disclosed to the 
friends of Christ only after His death. Thus the con- 
viction concerning Him which it was possible for them. 
to get from a study of His life was not yet the real 
truth ; but, on the contrary, it was the Spirit which first 
showed them the truth. 

Before His death He appeared to them as an individual 
VOL. in. G 



98 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

under the limitations of sense ; the real disclosure of 
what He was was given to them by the Spirit, of whom 
Christ said, " He will lead you into all truth." " That will 
first be the truth into which the Spirit will lead you." 

Regarded in this aspect this death consequently assumes 
the character of a death which is the transition to glory, to 
a glorified state, which, however, is merely a restoration 
of the original glorified state. The death, the negative, 
is the mediating element implying that the original state 
of majesty is thought of as having been reached. The 
history of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ to 
the right hand of God forms part of the history of His 
death when this comes to have a spiritual signification. 

Thus it came about that this little community of 
believers attained the sure conviction : God has appeared 
in the form of Man ; this humanity in God, and this 
humanity in its most abstract form, the most complete 
dependence, weakness in its most extreme form, the final 
stage of frailty, is just what we have in natural death. 

" God Himself is dead," as it is said in a Lutheran 
hymn ; the consciousness of this fact expresses the truth 
that the human, the finite, frailty, weakness, the nega- 
tive, is itself a divine moment, is in God Himself ; that 
otherness or Other-Being, the finite, the negative, is not 
outside of God, and that in its character as otherness it 
does not hinder unity with God ; otherness, the nega- 
tion, is consciously known to be a moment of the Divine 
nature. The highest knowledge of the nature of the 
Idea of Spirit is contained in this thought. 

This outward negative changes round in this way into 
the inner negative. Eegarded in one aspect the mean- 
ing, the signification attached to death is that in it the 
human element has been stripped ofi', and the divine 
glory comes again into view. But death is itself at the 
same time also the negative, the furthest point of that 
experience to which man as a natural being and con- 
sequently God Himself are exposed. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 99 

111 this whole history men have attained to the con- 
sciousness of a truth, and this is the truth which they 
have reached, namely, that^the Idea of God has come to 
be a certainty for them, that the human is God as imme- 
diate and present, and this indeed means that we have 
in this history, as understood by Spirit, the actual repre- 
sentation of the process of what constitutes Man or Spirit.^ 
Man as potentially God and deac[ that is the mediation 
whereby the human element is discarded ; or, regarded from 
another point of view, what has potential or essential Being 
returns to itself and by this act first comes to be Spirit. 
i Itvis with the consciousness of the Spiritual Com- 
munity, which thus makes the transition from man pure 
and simple to a God-man, and to a perception, a conscious- 
ness; a certainty of the unity and union of the Divine 
and human natures, that the Church or Spiritual Com- 
munity begins, and it is this consciousness which consti- 
tutes the truth upon which the Spiritual Community is 
founded. * 

This then is the explication of the meaning of recon- 
ciliation, that God is reconciled with the world, or rather 
that God has shown Himself to be by His very nature 
reconciled with the world, that what is human is not 
something alien to His nature, but that this otherness, 
this self-differentiation, finitude, as it is sometimes ex- 
pressed, is a moment in God Himself, though, to be sure, 
it is a vanishing moment ; still He has in this moment 
revealed and shown Himself to the Church. 

This is the form which the history of God's manifesta- 
tion takes for the Church ; this history is a divine history 
whereby it reaches a consciousness of the truth. It is 
this which creates the consciousness, the knowledge, that 
God is a Trinity. 

The reconciliation believed in as being in Christ has 
no meaning if God is not known as Trinity, if it is not 
recognised that He is but is at the same time the Other, 
the self-differentiating, the Other in the sense that this 



ioo THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Other is God Himself and has potentially the divine 
nature in it, and that the abolishing of this difference, 
of this otherness, this return, this love, is Spirit. 

This consciousness involves the truth that faith does 
not express relation to anything which is an Other, but 
relation to God Himself. These are the moments with 
which we are here concerned, and which express the 
truth that Man has come to a consciousness of that 
eternal history, that eternal movement which God Him- 
self is. 

This is the description of the second Idea as Idea in 
outward manifestation, and of how the eternal Idea has 
come to exist for the immediate certainty of Man, i.e., 
of how it has appeared in history. The fact that it is a 
certainty for men necessarily implies that it is material 
or sensuous certainty, but one which at the same time 
passes over into spiritual consciousness, and for the same 
reason is converted into immediate sensuousness, but in 
such a way that we recognise in it the movement, the 
history of God, the life which God Himself is. 



III. 

THE IDEA IN THE ELEMENT OF THE CHURCH OR 
SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, OR, THE KINGDOM OF 
SPIRIT. 

What was first dealt with was the notion or conception 
of this standpoint for consciousness ; what came second 
was what was supplied to this standpoint, what actually 
exists for the Spiritual Community ; the third point is 
the transition into this Community itself. 

This third sphere represents the Idea in its specific 
character as individuality ; but, to begin with, it exhibits 
only the one individuality, the divine, universal individu- 
ality as it is in-and-for-itself. One is thus all ; once is 
always, potentially, from the point of view of the Notion, 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 101 

it is simple determiuateness. But individuality in its 
character as independent Being, Being-for-self, is this act 
of allowing the differentiated moments to reach free im- 
mediacy and independence, it shuts them off from each 
other ; individuality just means that it has at the same 
time to be empirical individuality. 

Individuality as exclusive is for others immediacy, and 
is the return from the Other into self. The individuality 
of the Divine Idea, the Divine Idea as a person, first 
attains to completeness in reality, since at first it has the 
many individuals confronting it, and brings these back 
into the unity of Spirit, into the Church or Spiritual 
Community, and exists here as real, universal self-con- 
sciousness. 

It is just in connection with the act whereby the 
definite transition of the Idea to the sensuous present is 
accomplished that we have what is most distinctive in 
the religion of Spirit, namely, that all the moments are 
developed till they have reached definiteness and com- 
pleteness in their most external forms. But even in this 
condition of extreme opposition Spirit is certain of itself 
as being absolute truth, and consequently it is afraid of 
nothing, not even of the sensuous present. It is part of 
the cowardice of abstract thought that it shuns the sen- 
suous present in a monkish fashion ; modern abstraction 
takes up this attitude of fastidious gentility towards the 
moment of the sensuous present. 

It is next required of the individuals in the Community 
or Church that they should revere the Divine Idea in the 
form of individuality, and appropriate it to themselves. 
For the tender, loving disposition, that of woman, this is 
easy ; but then, on the other side, we are confronted with 
the fact that the subject on which this demand is made is 
in a condition of infinite freedom, and has come to under- 
stand the substantiality of its self -consciousness ; for the 
independent Notion, the man, this demand is accordingly 
infinitely hard. The freedom of the subject rebels against 



102 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the thought of reverencing a single sensuous individual 
as God, and against the combination which this implies. 
The Oriental does not hesitate to comply with this demand, 
but then he is nothing, he is implicitly thrown aside as of 
no value, without, however, having thrown himself aside, 
i.e., without having the consciousness of infinite freedom 
in himself. Here, however, this love, this recognition of 
the Divine in an individual is the direct opposite of this, 
and is just what constitutes the supreme miracle, that 
miracle which Spirit itself just is. 

This region is accordingly the Kingdom of Spirit, im- 
plying that the individual is of infinite value in himself, 
knows himself to be absolute freedom, possesses in himself 
the most rigid fixedness, and at the same time yields up 
this fixedness and maintains himself in what is absolutely 
an Other. Love harmonises all things, even absolute 
opposition. 

The pictorial conception of this religion demands the 
despising of all that presently exists, of everything which 
is otherwise regarded as possessed of value, it is that 
perfect ideality which takes up a polemical attitude to- 
wards all the glory of the world; in this single person, 
in this present immediate individual in whom the Divine 
Idea appears, everything that belongs to the world has 
met together, so that it is the individual sensuous present 
which has value. This individuality or particularity is 
consequently to be regarded as absolutely universal. Even 
in ordinary love we find this infinite abstraction from all 
worldly things, and the loving person centres all his satis- 
faction in one particular individual ; but this satisfaction 
still belongs essentially to particularity; it is particular 
contingency and feeling which opposes itself to the Uni- 
versal, and desires in this way to become objective. 

In contrast to this, that individuality in which I will 
the Divine Idea, is purely universal, it is for this reason 
directly removed from the sphere of the senses, it passes 
away of itself, becomes part of a history that is past, this 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 103 

sensuous mode must disappear and mount into the region 
of idea or mental representation. One of the constituent 
parts of the formation of the Church is that this sensuous 
form passes over into a spiritual element. The mode in 
which this purification from immediate Being takes place 
implies that the sensuous element in it is preserved ; the 
fact that it passes away is negation, as this is posited in 
and appears in one particular sensuous individual as such. 
It is only in a single individual that this sensuous repre- 
sentation is found, it is not something which can be 
inherited, and is not capable of renewal as the manifesta- 
tion of substance in the Lama is, it cannot appear in such 
a way because the sensuous manifestation as a definite 
individual manifestation is in its nature momentary ; 
it has to be spiritualised, and is therefore essentially a 
manifestation that has already been, and so is raised to 
the region of idea or mental representation. 

It is possible also to occupy a standpoint at which we 
do not get beyond the Son and His appearance in time. 
This is the case in Catholicism, in which the intercession 
of Mary arid the Saints is added to the reconciling power 
of the Son, and where the Spirit is present, rather in the 
Church as a hierarchy merely, and not in the Community 
of believers. Here, however, the second element in the 
specification of the Idea is not so much spiritualised, but 
rather remains in the region of ordinary thought. Or to 
put it otherwise, Spirit is not so much known as objective, 
but merely as the particular subjective form in which it 
appears in the sensuous present as the Church and lives 
in tradition. Spirit in this outward form of reality is, 
as it were, the Third Person. 

For the spirit which stands in need of it, the sensuous 
present can be given a permanent existence in pictures, 
though these are not indeed works of art, but are rather 
miracle-working pictures, regarded, that is to say, as 
existing in a definite material form. It follows from this 
that it is not merely the corporeal form and the body of 



104 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Christ which is able to satisfy the sensuous need, but 
rather the sensuous aspect of His bodily presence in 
general, the cross, the places in which He moved about, 
and so on. To this, relics, &c., come to be added. 
There is no lack of such mediate means of satisfying the 
craving felt. For the Spiritual Community, however, the 
immediate Present, the Now, is past and gone. The sen- 
suous idea accordingly, above all, integrates the Past, 
views it from the point of view of the whole, for it the 
Past is a one-sided moment ; the Present contains the 
Past and the Future in it as moments. Thus the sen- 
suous idea finds the completion of its representation in 
the Second Advent, but the essentially absolute return 
is the act of exchanging externality for what is inward : 
this is the Comforter who can come only when sensuous 
history as immediate is past. 

This, therefore, is the point represented by the forma- 
tion of the Spiritual Community, or the third point ; it 
is the Spirit. It represents the transition from what is 
outward, from outward manifestation to what is inward. 
It occupies itself with the certainty felt by the subject 
of its own infinite non-sensuous substantiality, and of 
the fact that it knows itself to be infinite and eternal, 
knows itself to be immortal. 

The retreat into inner self-consciousness which is 
involved in this conversion is not of the Stoical kind, 
the value of which consists in the fact that it accom- 
plishes this through the strength of the individual spirit 
as exercising thought, and seeks for the reality of 
thought in Nature, in natural things and in compre- 
hending these, and which consequently is devoid of 
infinite sorrow and stands at the same time in a 
thoroughly positive relation to the world. On the con- 
trary, it takes the form of the self -consciousness which 
endlessly yields up its particularity and individuality, 
and finds its infinite value only in that love which is 
contained in infinite sorrow and arises out of it. All 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 105 

immediacy in which Man might find some worth is 
thrown away ; it is in mediation alone that he finds 
such value, but of an infinite kind, and in which sub- 
jectivity becomes truly infinite and has an essential 
existence, is in-and-for-itself. It is only through this 
mediation that Man is not immediate, and thus at first 
he is capable merely of having such value ; but this 
capacity and possibility is his positive, absolute, essential 
nature or characteristic. 

This characteristic contains the reason why the im- 
mortality of the soul becomes a definite doctrine in the 
Christian religion. The soul, the individual soul, has 
an infinite, an eternal quality, namely, that of being a 
citizen in the Kingdom of God. This is a quality and 
a life which is removed beyond time and the Past ; 
and since it is at the same time opposed to the present 
limited sphere, this eternal quality or determination 
eternally determines itself at the same time as a future. 
The infinite demand to see God, i.e., to become conscious 
in spirit of His truth as present truth, is in this tem- 
poral Present not yet satisfied so far as consciousness in 
its character as ordinary consciousness is concerned. 

The subjectivity which has come to understand its 
infinite worth has thereby abandoned all distinctions of 
authority, power, position, and even of race ; before God 
all men are equal. It is in the negation of infinite 
sorrow that love is found, and there, too, are first found 
the possibility and the root of truly universal Right, of 
the realisation of freedom. The Roman formal life of 
right or justice starts from the positive standpoint and 
from the Understanding, and has no principle whereby 
to maintain absolutely the standpoint of Right, but is 
thoroughly worldly. 

This purity of subjectivity which passes out of infinite 
sorrow by mediating itself in love, is reached simply by 
that mediation which has its objective form and pictorial 
representation in the sufferings, death, and exaltation of 



io5 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Christ. Regarded from another point of view, this sub- 
jectivity likewise possesses this mode of its reality in 
itself, inasmuch as it is a multiplicity of subjects and 
individuals; but since it is implicitly universal and is 
not exclusive, the multiplicity of individuals has to be 
absolutely posited as having merely the appearance or 
show of reality, and the very fact that it posits itself as 
this show of reality is what constitutes the unity of 
faith, according to the ordinary idea formed by faith, 
and therefore in this third thing. This is the love of 
the Spiritual Community, which seems to consist of 
many individuals, while this multiplicity is merely a 
semblance or illusion. 

This love is neither human love, love of persons, the 
love of the sexes, nor friendship. Surprise has often 
been expressed that such a noble relationship as friend- 
ship is does not find a place amongst the duties enjoined 
by Christ. Friendship is a relationship which is tinged 
with particularity, and men are friends not so much 
directly as objectively rather through some substantial 
bond of union, in a third thing, in fundamental prin- 
ciples, studies, knowledge ; the bond, in short, is consti- 
tuted by something objective ; it is not attachment as 
such, like that of the man to the woman as a definite 
particular personality. The love of the Spiritual Com- 
munity, on the other hand, is directly mediated by the 
worthlessness of all particularity. The love of the man 
for the woman, or friendship, can certainly exist, but 
they are essentially characterised as subordinate ; they 
are characterised not indeed as something evil, but as 
something imperfect ; not as something indifferent, but 
as representing a state in which we are not to remain 
permanently, since they are themselves to be sacrificed, 
and must not in any way injuriously affect that absolute 
tendency and unity which belong to Spirit. 

The unity in this infinite love springing out of infinite 
sorrow is consequently in no way a sensuous, worldly 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 107 

connection of things, not a connection of the particu- 
larity and naturalness which may still remain over and 
be held to have value, but unity in the Spirit simply, 
the love, in fact, which is just the notion or conception 
of Spirit itself. It is an object for itself in Christ 
as representing the central point of faith, in which it 
appears to itself in an infinite, far-off loftiness. But this 
loftiness is at the same time an infinite nearness to the 
subject, something peculiar to it and belonging to it, 
and thus what at first comprised individuals as a Third 
is also what constitutes their true self-consciousness, 
their most inner and individual character. Thus this 
love is Spirit as such, the Holy Spirit. It is in them, 
and they are and constitute the universal Christian 
Church, the Communion of saints. Spirit is infinite 
return into self, infinite subjectivity, not Godhead con- 
ceived of in ideas, but the real present Godhead, and 
thus it is not the substantial potentiality of the Father, 
not the True in the objective or antithetical form of the 
Son, but the subjective Present and Eeal, which, just 
because it is subjective, is present, as estrangement into 
that objective, sensuous representation of love and of its 
infinite sorrow, and as return, in that mediation. This 
is the Spirit of God, or God as present, real Spirit, God 
dwelling in His Church. Thus Christ said, "Where 
two or three are gathered together in My name, there 
am I in the midst of you." " I am with you always, 
even to the end of the world." 

It is as containing this absolute signification of Spirit, 
and in this deep sense of being absolute truth, that the 
Christian religion is the Religion of Spirit, though not 
in the trivial sense of being a spiritual religion. On 
the contrary, the true element in the determination of 
the nature of Spirit, the union of the two sides of the 
infinite antithesis God and the world, I, this particu- 
lar homuncio is what constitutes the content of the 
Christian religion, and makes it into a religion of Spirit, 



io8 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and this content is also found in it by the ordinary 
uncultured consciousness. 

All men are called to salvation ; that is what is 
highest in the Christian religion and highest in a unique 
degree. Therefore Christ also says, "All sins can be 
forgiven to men except the sin against the Spirit." The 
violation of absolute truth, of the Idea of that union of 
the two sides of the infinite antithesis, is in these words 
declared to be the supreme transgression. People have 
from time to time given themselves a deal of trouble and 
racked their brains trying to find out what is the sin 
against the Holy Spirit, and have smoothed down this 
significant expression in all kinds of ways in order to get 
entirely rid of it. Everything can be destroyed in the 
infinite sorrow of love, but this destroying process itself 
appears only as inner present Spirit. What is devoid of 
Spirit appears at first to have no sin in it, but to be inno- 
cent ; but this is just the innocence which is by its very 
nature judged and condemned. 

The sphere of the Spiritual Community is accordingly 
the region which belongs peculiarly to Spirit. The Holy 
Spirit was poured out on the disciples, it was their im- 
manent life, from that time onward they joyfully went 
out into the world as a Spiritual Community, in order to 
raise it to the condition of a universal Community of 
believers, and to extend far and wide the Kingdom of God. 

We have thus to consider (a) the origin of the Spiritual 
Community, or, in other words, its conception or notion ; 
(b) its existence in a definite form and its continued exist- 
ence, this is the realisation of its conception ; and (c) the 
transition from faith to knowledge, the alteration, the 
transfiguration of faith in philosophy. 

(a.) The Conception of the Spiritual Community. 

The Spiritual Community consists of the subjects or 
persons, the individual, empirical subjects who live in the 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 109 

Spirit of God, though at the same time it is necessary to 
distinguish between them and the definite content, the 
history, the truth which confronts them. Faith in this 
history, in reconciliation, is, on the one hand, immediate 
knowledge, an act of faith ; on the other hand, the nature 
of Spirit is in itself this process which has been con- 
sidered in the universal Idea, and in the Idea in the form 
of manifestation, and this means that the subject itself is 
nothing but Spirit, and consequently becomes a citizen of 
the Kingdom of God owing to the fact that it passes 
through this process in virtue of what it is. The Other, 
which exists for the subjects, exists for them objectively 
in this divine drama in the sense in which the spectator 
beheld himself objectively in the Chorus. 

To begin with, it is undoubtedly the subject, the 
human subject, Man, in whom is revealed what comes by 
the aid of Spirit to have for Man the certainty of re- 
conciliation, and comes to be characterised as individual, 
exclusive, different from others. Thus the representation 
of the divine history is an objective one so far as the 
other subjects are concerned ; they have accordingly still 
to pass through this history and this process in their own 
selves also. 

In order to this, however, they must first presuppose 
that reconciliation is possible, or, to put it more accurately, 
that this reconciliation has actually and completely taken 
place and is a certainty. 

This is the universal Idea of God in-and-for-itself ; the 
other presupposition is that this reconciliation is some- 
thing certain for Man, and that this truth does not 
exist for him by means of speculative thought,, but is, 
on the contrary, something certain. This presupposition 
implies that it is certain that the reconciliation has been 
accomplished, i.e., it must be represented as something 
historical, as something which has been accomplished on 
the earth, in a manifested form. For there is no other 
mode of representing what is called certainty. This is 



no THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the presupposition iii which we must believe, to begin 
with. 

I. The rise of the Spiritual Community appears in the 
form of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Faith takes 
its rise first of all in a man, a human, material mani- 
festation ; and next conies spiritual comprehension, con- 
sciousness of the Spiritual. We get spiritual content, a 
changing of what is immediate into what has a spiritual 
character. The verification here is spiritual, it is not 
found in what is sensuous or material ; and it cannot 
be brought about in an immediate, material way ; some 
objection can always be brought against the material 
facts. 

As regards the empirical mode of verifying the truth, 
the Church is so far right when it refuses to countenance 
investigations such as those concerned with the appear- 
ances of Christ after His death ; for investigations of 
this sort start from a point of view which implies that 
the real question is as to the sensuous element in the 
appearance of Christ, as to what is historical in it, as if 
the verification of Spirit and of its truth was contained 
in such narratives regarding one who was represented as 
an historical person and in an historical fashion. This 
truth, however, is sure and certain by itself, although it 
has an historical starting-point. 

This transition is the outpouring of the Spirit, which 
could make its appearance only after Christ had been 
taken away out of the flesh, and the sensuous, immediate 
present had ceased. It is then the Spirit appears, for 
then the entire history is completed, and the entire 
picture of Spirit is present to perception. What Spirit 
now produces is something different and has a different 
form. 

The question as to the truth of the Christian religion 
directly divides itself into two questions : I . Is it really 
true that God does not exist apart from the Son, and that 
He has sent Him into the world? And 2. Was this par- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION in 

ticular individual, Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter's son, 
the Son of God, the Christ ? 

These two questions are commonly mixed up together, 
with the result that if this particular person was not 
God's Son sent by Him, and if this cannot be proved to 
be true of Him, then there is no meaning at all in His 
mission. If this were not true of Him, we would either 
have to look for another, if indeed one is to come, if 
there is a promise to that effect, i.e., if it is absolutely 
and essentially necessary, necessary from the point of 
view of the Notion, of the Idea ; or, since the correctness 
of the Idea is made to depend on the demonstration of 
the divine mission referred to, we should have to conclude 
that there can really be no longer any thought of such a 
mission, and that we cannot further think about it 

But it is essential that we ask first of all, Is such a 
manifestation true in-aud-for-itself? It is, because God 
as Spirit is the triune God. He is this act of mani- 
festation, this self-objectifying, and it is His nature to 
be identical with Himself while thus making Himself 
objective ; He is eternal love. This objectifying as seen 
in its completely developed form in which it reaches the 
two extremes of the universality of God and finitude or 
death, and this return into self in the act of abolishing 
the rigidity of the antithesis is love in the infinite sorrow, 
which is at the same time assuaged in it. 

This absolute truth, this truth iu-and-for-itself that 
God is not an abstraction, but something concrete, is un- 
folded by philosophy, and it is only modern philosophy 
which has reached the profound thought thus contained 
in the Notion. It is not possible at all to discuss this 
truth in unphilosophical platitudes which suggest an 
idea of contradiction that is so entirely valueless and is 
so absolutely wanting in what is spiritual. 

But this notion or conception must not be thought of 
as one which gets a complete form in philosophy only, it 
is not only potentially true ; on the contrary, it belongs 



ii2 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

essentially to philosophy to get a grasp of what is, of 
what is actually real in itself. All that is true starts 
from the form of immediacy as it appears in its mani- 
festation, i.e., in its Being. The notion or conception 
must therefore be implicitly present in the self-con- 
sciousness of men, in the Spirit ; the World-Spirit must 
have conceived of itself after this fashion. This concep- 
tion of itself, however, is necessity in the form of the 
process of Spirit, which was exhibited in the preceding 
stages of religion, and chiefly in the Jewish, the Greek, 
and the Roman religions, and had for its result the notion 
or conception of the absolute unity of the divine and 
human natures, the reality of God, i.e., God's objectifying 
of Himself as representing His truth. Thus the history 
of the world is the setting forth of this truth as a result 
in the immediate consciousness of Spirit. 

We have seen God as a God of free men, though at 
first as yet in the subjective, limited, national spirit of the 
various peoples, and in the accidental shape which belongs 
to imagination ; next we had the sorrow of the world 
following on the crushing out of the national Spirit. This 
sorrow was the birthplace of the impulse felt by Spirit to 
know God as spiritual in a universal form and stripped 
of finitude. This need was created by the progress of 
history, by the gradual advance of the World-Spirit. 
This immediate impulse, this longing which wishes and 
craves for something definite, the instinct, as it were, of 
Spirit which is impelled to seek for this, demanded such 
an appearance in time, the manifestation of God as the 
infinite Spirit in the form of a real man. 

" When the fulness of time was come, God sent His 
Son," i.e., when Spirit had entered so deeply into itself as 
to know its infinitude, and to comprehend the Substantial 
in the subjectivity of immediate self-consciousness, in a 
subjectivity, however, which is at the same time infinite 
negativity, and is just, in consequence of this, absolutely 
universal. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 113 

The proof, however, that this particular individual is 
the Christ, is of another kind, and has reference only to 
the specific statement that this particular individual is 
the Christ, and not any other individual, and has not to 
do with the question as to whether in this case the Idea 
does not exist at all. Christ said, "Run not hither and 
thither ; the Kingdom of God is within you." Many 
others amongst Jews and heathen were revered as divine 
messengers or as gods. John the Baptist went before 
Christ ; amongst the Greeks, statues were erected, for 
instance, to Demetrius Poliorcetes as if he were a god ; 
and the Roman Emperor was revered as God. Apol- 
lonius of Tyana and many others passed for being 
workers of miracles ; and for the Greeks, Hercules was 
the man who by his deeds, which were at the same time 
deeds of obedience merely, took his place amongst the 
gods, and became God ; without mentioning that great 
number of incarnations, and the deification implied in 
being raised to Brahma, which we meet with amongst the 
Hindus. But it was to Christ only that the Idea, when 
it was ripe and the time was fulfilled, could attach itself, 
and in Him only could it see itself realised. In the 
heroic deeds of Hercules the nature of Spirit is still 
imperfectly expressed. But the history of Christ is a 
history for the Spiritual Community, since it is absolutely 
adequate to the Idea ; while it is only the effort of 
Spirit to reach the determination implied in the implicit 
unity of the Divine and the Human, which lies at the 
basis of those earlier forms, and can be recognised as 
present in them. This is what must be regarded as the 
essential thing, this is the verification, the absolute proof ; 
this is what is to be understood by the witness of the 
Spirit ; it is the Spirit, the indwelling Idea which attests- 
Christ's mission, and for those who believed, and for us 
who are in possession of the Notion in its developed 
form, this is verification. This is also the kind of veri- 
fication whose, force is of a spiritual kind, and is not 

VOL. III. H 



Ii 4 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

outward force such as that used by the Church against 
heretics. 

This then is (2.) Knowledge or Faith, for faith is also 
knowledge only in a peculiar form. We have now to 
consider this point. 

Thus what we see is that the divine content appears 
as self-conscious knowledge of the Divine in the element 
of consciousness, of inwardness. On the one hand, it is 
seen that the content is the truth, and that it is the truth 
of infinite Spirit in general, i.e., is its knowledge, in such 
a way that it finds its freedom in this knowledge, is itself 
the Process by which it casts aside its particular individu- 
ality, and gets freedom for itself in this content. 

To begin with, however, the content exists for the 
immediate consciousness, and the truth might appear for 
consciousness in a variety of material forms, for the Idea 
is one in all things, it is universal necessity ; reality can 
be only the mirror of the Idea, and for consciousness the 
Idea can accordingly issue forth from everything, for it is 
always the Idea that is in these infinitely many drops 
which reflect back the Idea. The Idea is represented 
figuratively, known and foreshadowed in the seed which 
is the fruit ; the fruit in its final character dies away in 
the earth, and it is through this negation that the plant 
first comes into being. A history, a pictorial representa- 
tion, a description, a phenomenon of this sort can be 
elevated by Spirit to the rank of something universal, 
and thus the history of the seed or of the sun becomes a 
symbol of the Idea, but only a symbol, for they are forms 
which, so far as their peculiar content and specific quality 
are concerned, are inadequate to express the Idea ; what 
is consciously known through them lies outside of them, 
the signification they suggest does not exist in them as 
signification. The object which exists in itself as the 
Notion is spiritual subjectivity, Man ; it is signification 
in virtue of what it itself is, and this signification does not 
lie outside of it. It is what thinks everything, knows 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 115 

everything, it is not a symbol, but, on the contrary, its 
subjectivity, its inner form, its self is essentially this very 
history itself, and the history of the Spiritual is not found 
in some form of existence, which is inadequate to express 
the Idea, but rather in its own element. It is therefore 
necessary for the Spiritual Community that Thought, the 
Idea, should become objective. At first, however, the 
Idea appears in a single individual in a material, pic- 
torial form ; this must be discarded, and the real signi- _ 
fication, the eternally true essence must be brought into 
view. Tliis is the faith of the Spiritual Community when 
it is coming into existence. It starts from faith in the 
individual, this individual man is changed by the Spiritual 
Community, He is recognised to be God and is characterised 
as the Son of God and as comprising all of the finite which 
attaches to subjectivity as such in its development, but as 
being subjectivity He is separated from substantiality. 

The material or sensuous manifestation is accordingly 
changed into knowledge of the Spiritual. We thus see 
the Spiritual Community starting from faith, but regarded 
in another aspect it appears in the form of Spirit. The 
different significations of faith and of verification or proof 
have now to be brought out. 

Since faith starts from the sensuous way of viewing 
things, it has before it a history in time ; what it holds 
as true is an outward ordinary event, and the verification 
of the truth of this is conducted according to the histori- 
cal and juridical mode of verifying a fact, which gives 
sensuous certainty ; the idea formed of the basis upon 
which truth rests takes as a foundation the material cer- 
tainty of other persons regarding certain material facts, 
and brings other facts into connection with these. 

The history of the life of Christ is thus the outward 
form of verification ; but faith alters its meaning, that is 
to say, we have not merely got to do with faith as faith 
in a certain external history, but with the fact that this 
particular man was the Son of God. 



n6 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The sensuous content thus becomes something wholly 
different, it becomes altered into another kind of content, 
and what is demanded is that this should be proved to 
be true. The object has undergone a complete altera- 
tion, and from being a material, empirically existing 
element, it has become a divine moment, an essentially 
supreme moment in God Himself. This content is no 
longer anything material, and therefore when the demand 
is made that it should be verified in the material fashion 
just referred to, this method is at once seen to be insuffi- 
cient, because the object is of a wholly different nature. 

If miracles are supposed to contain the immediate 
verification of the truth, still in-and-for-themselves they 
supply a merely relative, verification or a proof of a sub- 
ordinate sort. Christ says, by way of reproof, " Unless 
ye see miracles, ye will not believe." " Many will come 
and say to Me : Have we not done many signs in Thy 
name ? And I will say to them : I have not known you ; 
depart from Me." What is the kind of interest that can 
here any longer attach to this working of miracles ? The 
relative element could have an interest or importance 
only for those who stood outside, for the instruction of 
Jews and heathen. But the Spiritual Community, which 
has taken a definite form, no longer stands in need of this 
relative kind of proof, it has the Spirit in itself, which 
leads into all truth, and which, by means of its truth as 
Spirit, exercises upon Spirit the true kind of force, a 
power in which Spirit has left to it its absolute freedom. 
The miracle represents a force which influences the natural 
connections of things, and is consequently a force which 
is exercised only upon Spirit when it is confined within 
the consciousness of this limited connection between 
things. How is it possible that the eternal Idea itself 
could reach consciousness through the conception of a 
force of this kind ? 

When the content is defined to mean that the 
miracles of Christ are themselves material phenomena 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 117 

winch can be attested historically, and when His resur- 
rection and ascension are in the same way considered 
as occurrences perceived by the senses, so far as the Sen- 
suous is concerned we are not dealing with the sensuous 
attestation of these phenomena, and it is not suggested 
that the miracles of Christ, His resurrection and ascension, 
in their character as themselves outward phenomena and 
sensuous occurrences, have not sufficient evidence of their 
truth ; but, on the contrary, what we are concerned with 
is the relation of the sensuous verification and the 
sensuous occurrences taken together, to Spirit, to the 
spiritual content. The verification of the Sensuous, 
whatever be its content, and whether it is based on evi- 
dence or direct perception, is always open to an infinite 
number of objections, because it is based on what is 
sensuous and external, and this is an Other so far as 
Spirit or consciousness is concerned ; here consciousness 
and its object are separated, and what holds sway is 
this underlying separation, which carries with it the 
possibility of error, deception, and a want of the culture 
necessary to form a correct conception of a fact, so that 
one may have doubts, and look on the Holy Scriptures, 
as regards what in them has reference to what is merely 
external and historical, as profane writings, without mis- 
trusting the goodwill of those who give the personal 
evidence. The sensuous or material content is not 
certain in itself, because it does not originate with Spirit 
as such, because it belongs to another sphere and does not 
come into existence by means of the Notion. It may be 
thought that we ought to come to our conclusions by a 
comparison of all the evidence and the circumstances, 
or that there must be reasons why we should decide 
for the one or for the other, only, this entire method of 
proof and the sensuous content as such ought to be 
given a subordinate place in comparison with the need 
of Spirit. What is to be true for Spirit, what it is 
necessary for it to believe must have no connection with 



ii8 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

sensuous faith ; what is true for Spirit is something for 
which sensuous manifestation has only a secondary value. 
Since Spirit starts from what is sensuous, and attains 
to this lofty estimate of itself, its relation to the Sensuous 
is a directly negative relation. This is a fundamental 
principle. 

Still, spite of this, there always remains a certain 
curiosity in this matter, and a desire to know how in 
this case we are to understand miracles, how we are to 
explain them and conceive of them to conceive of them, 
that is to say, in the sense that they are not miracles at 
all, but, on the contrary, are natural effects. A curiosity 
of this kind, however, presupposes doubt and unbelief, 
and would like to find some plausible grounds where- 
by the persons concerned might still be held to be 
morally virtuous and preserve their character for truth- 
fulness ; so next it is maintained that there was no 
intention to deceive, i.e., that no deception actually was 
practised, and that in any case it was so moderate and 
v well meant that Christ and His friends ought still to be 
considered as honourable persons. The shortest way of 
settling the matter would be entirely to reject miracles ; 
if we do not believe in any miracles at all, and find 
that they are opposed to reason, the fact of their being 
proved will do no good ; the evidence for them must 
rest on sense-perception, but there is in the human mind 
an insurmountable objection to regard as truth what is 
attested solely after this fashion for here the proofs 
are nothing but possibilities and probabilities, i.e., they 
are merely subjective and finite reasons. 

Or we must give the advice : simply don't have doubts 
and then they are solved ! But I must have them, I 
cannot rid myself of them, and the necessity there is for 
answering them rests on the necessity of having them. 
Reflection advances these claims as absolute, it fixes on 
these finite reasons ; but by piety, by true faith, these 
finite reasons, these methods of the finite understanding 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 119 

have long since been set aside. Curiosity of this sort 
really has its origin in unbelief; faith, however, rests 
on the witness of the Spirit not on miracles, but on 
the absolute truth, on the eternal Idea. Thus so far as 
the true content is concerned, and regarding them from 
this standpoint, miracles are of small importance, they 
may with equal propriety either be used as subjective 
reasons with the minor purpose of edification, or else be 
let alone. There is the further fact that miracles, if they 
are to attest the truth of anything, must first be attested 
themselves. But what has to be attested by them is the 
Idea which has no need of them, and because cf this has 
no need to attest them. 

It has further to be observed that miracles are, speak- 
ing generally, effects produced by the power exercised by 
Spirit upon the natural connection'of things, are an inter- 
ference with the course and the eternal laws of Nature. 
But the truth is that it is Spirit which is this miracle, 
this absolute interference. Life is already an interference 
with these so-called eternal laws of Nature ; it destroys, 
for instance, the eternal laws of mechanism and chemistry. 
The power of Spirit, and also its weakness, have still 
more effect on life. Terror can produce death, anxiety, 
illness, and so in all ages infinite faith and trust have 
enabled the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, &c. 
Modern unbelief in occurrences of this sort is based on 
a superstitious belief in the so-called force of Nature 
and its independence relatively to Spirit. 

This, however, is merely the first and accidental method 
of attesting truth employed by faith. The real kind of 
faith rests on the Spirit of truth. The former kind of 
verification still involves a relation to the sensuous im- 
mediate present ; faith proper is spiritual, and in Spirit 
truth has the Idea for its basis, and, since the Idea is at 
the same time represented in a temporal and finite way 
existing in a single definite individual, it can appear as 
realised in this individual only after his death and after 



120 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

he has been removed from the temporal sphere when the 
process through which the manifestation passes has itself 
reached the form of spiritual totality, i.e., the very fact of 
believing in Jesus implies that this faith has no longer 
before it the sensuous manifestation as such, the sensuous 
perception of which would in that case have constituted 
the proof of the truth. 

What happens here is what happens in connection 
with all knowledge in so far as it has reference to a 
Universal. Kepler, as is well known, discovered the laws 
of the Heavens. They are valid for us in a double way, 
they are the Universal. A start was made from single 
instances ; certain movements were referred back to laws. 
But these are only single instances, and we would be free 
to think that there may be millions more of instances, that 
there may be bodies which don't move like those we know 
of, and thus this is not a universal law even in the case 
of the heavenly bodies themselves. We have certainly 
become acquainted with these laws by means of induction ; 
but for Spirit, the interest lies in the fact that such a law 
is true in-and-for-itself, i.e., in its own nature, that reason 
finds in it its counterpart, and then recognises it to be 
true in-and-for-itself. In comparison with this absolute 
knowledge, the sensuous knowledge referred to accord- 
ingly takes a secondary place, it is indeed a starting-point, 
a point of departure which has to be gratefully recognised, 
but a law such as that just mentioned holds good for 
itself and thus accordingly the proof of its truth is of a 
different kind from that supplied by the senses, it is the 
Notion, and sensuous existence is now lowered to the 
condition of a dream-like vision of the earthly-life, above 
which exists a higher region with a fixed content of its 
own. 

The same kind of thing is seen in connection with the 
proofs of the existence of God which start from the finite. 
The defect in them is that the finite is conceived of in an 
affirmative way only ; but the transition from the finite 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 121 

to the Infinite is at the same time of such a character 
that the region of the finite is left behind, and the finite 
is reduced to the condition of something subordinate, to 
being a far-away picture, which has its real existence 
only in the past and in memory, and not in Spirit, which 
is above all things present, and which has left that 
starting-point behind, and belongs to a region the value 
of which is of a totally different sort. The pious man 
can thus take advantage of everything in order to edify 
himself, and in that case this is the starting-point. It 
lias been proved that several of the quotations made by 
Christ from the Old Testament are incorrect, and that 
the meaning extracted from them is not based on the 
immediate sense of the words. The Word, according to 
this view, is to be regarded as something fixed ; but Spirit 
makes out of it something that is true. Thus the material 
history is the starting-point for Spirit, for faith, and these 
two characteristics must be distinguished from each other, 
and what we are first of all concerned with is the return 
of Spirit into itself, spiritual consciousness. 

It thus becomes clear that it is the Church or Spiritual /_ 
Community which of itself produces this faith, and that 
it is not, so to speak, created by the words of the Bible, 
but, on the contrary, by the Spiritual Community. So, 
too, it is not the material Present but the Spirit which 
teaches the Spiritual Community that Christ is the Son 
of God, that He sits eternally at the right hand of the 
Father in heaven. That is the interpretation, the witness, 
the decree of Spirit. If grateful peoples have only placed 
their benefactors amongst the stars, Spirit has recognised 
subjectivity as an absolute moment of the divine nature. 
The person of Christ has been decreed by the Church to 
be the Son of God. We have nothing to do in this con- 
nection with the empirical method of stating this, with 
the ecclesiastical method of determining the truth, with 
councils and such like. The real question is as to what 
the content essentially is, is in-and-for-itself. The true 



122 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Christian content of faith is to be justified by philosophy, 
not by history. What Spirit does is no history ; it takes 
to do only with what exists on its own account, is in-and- 
for-itself, not with something past, but, on the contrary, 
simply with what is present. 

3. But this has appeared in time, too, it has a relation 
to the subject, it exists for it, and it has a no less essen- 
tial relation to the fact that the subject is intended to be 
a citizen of the Kingdom of God. 

This fact that the subject itself is to become a child of 
God involves the truth that reconciliation has actually 
been completely accomplished in the Divine Idea, and 
that it has accordingly appeared in time, that the truth 
has become a matter of certainty to men. It is just 
this fact of certainty which is the manifestation, the 
Idea, in the manifested form in which it comes to con- 
sciousness. 

The relation of the subject to this truth is that the 
subject reaches this very consciousness of unity, thinks 
itself worthy of it, produces it in itself, is filled with the 
Divine Spirit. 

This takes place by means of mediation in itself, and 
this mediation means that the subject has this faith ; for 
faith is the truth, the presupposition that reconciliation 
is essentially and absolutely accomplished and is certain. 
It is only by means of this belief that reconciliation has 
been essentially and absolutely accomplished and is certain, 
that the subject is capable of placing itself in this unity, 
and is in a position to do this. This mediation is abso- 
lutely necessary. 

In the blissful feeling thus reached by means of this 
act of apprehending the truth, the difficulty is removed 
which is directly involved in the circumstance that the 
relation of the Spiritual Community to this Idea is a 
relation of individual particular subjects to the Idea ; this 
difficulty is, however, done away with in this very truth 
itself. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 123 

Speaking more strictly, the difficulty is that the sub- 
ject is different from the Divine Spirit, and appears as 
something which is its finitude. This finite element is 
taken away, and the reason of this is that God looks on 
the heart of Man, on the substantial will, on the most 
inward all-embracing subjectivity of Man, on the inner, 
true, earnest act of will. 

Besides this inner will, and as distinguished from this 
inner substantial reality, there further exists in Man an 
element of externality, of defectiveness, which shows it- 
self in the fact that he commits mistakes, that he can 
exist in a way which is not in conformity with this inner, 
substantial, essential nature, this substantial, essential in- 
wardness. 

But externality, otherness in short, finitude, or im- 
perfection as it may further be defined, is degraded to the 
condition of something unessential, and is known as such. 
For in the Idea the otherness, or Other-Being of the Son, 
is a passing, disappearing moment, and not at all a true, 
essential, permanent, and absolute moment. 

This is the notion or conception of the Spiritual Com- 
munity in general ; the Idea, which so far is the process 
of the subject within and in itself this subject being 
taken up into the Spirit is spiritual, in the sense that 
the Spirit of God dwells in it. This pure self-conscious- 
ness which thus belongs to it is at the same time a 
consciousness of the truth, and this pure self-conscious- 
ness which knows and wills the truth is just the Divine 
Spirit in it. Or, this self-consciousness taken as faith 
which rests on the Spirit, i.e., on a mediation which does 
away with all finite mediation, is the faith wrought in 
Man by God. 

(b.) The Realisation of the Spiritual Community. 

The real Spiritual Community is what we in general 
call the Church. This no longer represents the rise of 



124 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the Spiritual Community, but the Spiritual Community 
as actually existing and as maintaining itself. 

The actual, permanent existence of the Spiritual Com- 
munity is its continuous, eternal becoming, which is based 
on the fact that it is the very nature of Spirit to know 
itself as eternal, to liberate itself so as to form those finite 
flashes of light which make the individual consciousness, 
and then to collect itself again out of this finitude and com- 
prehend itself, and in this way the knowledge of its essence 
and consequently the divine self-consciousness appear in 
finite consciousness. Out of the ferment of finitude, and 
while it changes itself into foam, Spirit rises like a vapour. 

In the Spiritual Community as actually existing, the 
Church is emphatically the institution in virtue of which 
the persons composing it reach the truth and appropriate 
it for themselves, and through it the Holy Spirit comes to 
be in them as real, actual, and present, and has its abode 
in them ; it means that the truth is in them, and that 
they are in a condition to enjoy and give active expres- 
sion to the truth or Spirit, that they as individuals are 
those who give active expression to the Spirit. 

The Church viewed in its universal aspect means that 
the truth is here presupposed as already existing not as 
if it were just originating, and the Holy Spirit were being 
poured out for the first time, and was being brought into 
existence for the first time, but rather that the truth 
exists as actually present truth. For the subject this 
means an alteration of the relation in which it stood to 
the truth at the beginning. 

i. This truth which is thus presupposed is actually 
present ; it is the doctrine of the Church, the Faith, and 
we know what the content of this doctrine is ; it is, in 
one word, the doctrine of reconciliation. We have no 
longer to do with the fact that this one man has been 
elevated by the outpouring, the decree of the Spirit, so as 
to have an absolute signification, but with the fact that 
this signification is consciously known and recognised. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 125 

This represents the absolute capacity possessed by the 
subject for taking a share in the truth, both as it exists 
in itself and as it exists in an objective form, the capa- 
city for reaching the truth, for being in the truth, for 
attaining to a consciousness of the truth. This con- 
sciousness of doctrine is here presupposed and actually 
exists. 

It is clear from this, both that some kind of doctrine 
is necessary, and that the doctrine is already formed when 
the Spiritual Community definitely exists. It is this 
doctrine which is represented in a pictorial way, and 
constitutes a content in which we see and have shown in 
an absolutely completed form, what ought to be accom- 
plished in the individual as such. 

This doctrine is thus regarded as something presup- 
posed so far as its main elements are concerned, as 
something already formed, while it is in the Spiritual 
Community itself that it first gets a matured form. The 
Spirit which is poured out is the beginning, what makes 
the beginning, that in which the doctrine takes its rise. 
The Spiritual Community is the consciousness of this 
Spirit, the expression of what the Spirit has discovered, 
and by which it has been laid hold of, namely, that 
Christ is for the Spirit. The distinction involved in 
the question as to whether the Spiritual Community 
gives expression to its consciousness on the basis of al 
written document, or attaches its own self-determinations 
to tradition, is not at all an essential one ; the maiii 
point is, that by means of the Spirit, which is present 
in it, this Community is the infinite power and authority 
whereby its doctrine is further developed and gets a more 
specific form. This authority makes its presence felt in 
both of those different cases. The exposition of a docu- 
ment which lies at the basis of any doctrine is always in 
its turn a form of knowledge, and develops into new 
specific truths ; and even if, as in the case of tradition, 
it attaches itself to something given or taken for granted, 



126 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the tradition itself, in its historical development, is essen- 
tially a positing or making explicit of some implicit truth. 
Thus doctrine is essentially worked out and matured in 
the Church. It exists, to begin with, as intuition, feeling, 
as the felt, flash-like witness of the Spirit. But the 
determination implied in the act of producing or bring- 
ing into existence is itself merely a one-sided determina- 
tion, for truth is at the same time implicitly present or 
presupposed. The subject is already taken up into the 
content. 

The confession of faith or dogma accordingly is some- 
thing which has been essentially formed in the Church 
first of all, and* it is consequently Thought, developed 
consciousness which asserts its rights in connection with 
it, and it applies all that it has gained from trained 
thinking and philosophy, to these thoughts and on behalf 
of this truth thus consciously perceived ; doctrine is con- 
structed out of foreign concrete elements which have still 
an impure element mixed with them. 

This actually existing doctrine must accordingly be 
preserved in the Church, and all that is considered as 
doctrine must be taught. In order to remove it out of 
the region of caprice and of accidental opinions and views, 
and to preserve it as absolute truth and as something 
fixed, it is deposited or stated in creeds. It is, it exists, 
it has value, it is recognised immediately yet not in a 
material fashion that the apprehension of this doctrine 
takes place through the senses, just as the world, too, is 
something presupposed as existing, and to which we are 
related as to something material. 

Spiritual truth exists only as something consciously 
known ; the mode in which it outwardly appears consists 
in the fact that it is taught. The Church is essentially 
the institution which implies the existence of a teaching 
body to which is committed the duty of expounding this 
doctrine. 

The subject is born within the circle of this doctrine ; 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 127 

he begins in this condition of established existing truth 
and in the consciousness of it. That is his relation to 
this truth, which actually exists, and is presupposed as 
having an absolute and essential existence. 

2. Since the individual is thus born in the Church, he 
is forthwith destined, although, to be sure, unconsciously, 
to share in this truth and to become a partaker of it ; he 
is destined for this truth. The Church expresses this in 
the Sacrament of Baptism, Man is in the fellowship of 
the Church, in which Evil is essentially, in-and-for-itself, 
overcome, and God is essentially, or in-and-for-Himself, 
reconciled. 

Baptism shows that the child has been born in the 
fellowship of the Church, not in sin and misery ; that he 
has not come into a hostile world, but that the Church 
is his world, and that he has only to train himself in the 
Spiritual Community which already actually exists as 
representing his worldly condition. 

Man must be born twice, once naturally, and then 
again spiritually, like the Brahman. Spirit is not im- 
mediate, it exists only in so far as it brings itself out of 
itself; it exists only as the regenerate Spirit. 

This regeneration is no longer that infinite sadness 
which is in general the birth sorrow of the Spiritual 
Community ; the subject is not indeed spared the in- 
finitely real sorrow, but this is softened ; for there still 
exists the opposing factor of particularity, of special 
interests, passions, selfishness. The natural heart which 
encompasses Man is the enemy that has to be fought ; 
this is, however, no longer the real battle out of which 
the Spiritual Community sprang. 

The doctrine of the Church is related to this individual 
as something external. The child is, to begin with, Spirit 
implicitly only, it is not yet realised Spirit, does not 
actually exist as Spirit, but has only the capability, the 
faculty of being Spirit, of becoming Spirit actually ; thus 
the truth comes to it at first as something taken for 



128 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

granted, recognised, valid, i.e., truth necessarily presents 
itself at first to men in the form of authority. 

All truth, even material truth this, however, is not 
truth properly so-called comes to men in this form, to 
begin with. In our sense-perception the world presents 
itself to us as authority, it is, we find it as it is, we take 
it as something which has existence, and we are related 
to it as something which exists. It exists in a certain 
way, and its existence in this form is valid for us. 

Doctrine, the spiritual element does not actually exist 
in the form of material authority of this sort, but must 
be taught as established truth. Custom is something 
established or valid, a definitely formed conviction ; but 
because it is something spiritual we do not say : it is ; but 
rather, it is valid. Since it comes to us as something 
which exists, it is, and since it thus comes to us as some- 
thing having valid worth, we call the mode in which it 
thus appears authority. 

Just as man has to learn about material things on 
authority and because they are there and exist, has to 
be content with them the sun is there, and because it 
is there I must be content with it so, too, is it with 
doctrine or truth ; it does not, however, come to us by 
means of sense-perception, by the active exercise of the 
senses, but through teaching, as something which actually 
exists, through authority. What is in the human spirit, 
i.e., in its true spirit, is in this way brought into its con- 
sciousness as something objective, or what is in it is 
developed so that it knows it to be the truth in which 
it exists. In such education, practice, training, and ap- 
propriation, the whole interest centres merely in get- 
ting accustomed to the Good and the True. So far we 
are not concerned with overcoming Evil, for Evil has 
implicitly and actually been overcome. 

We are concerned merely with contingent subjectivity. 
With the one characteristic of faith, namely, that the 
subject is not what it is meant to be, there is joined the 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 129 

absolute possibility that it may fulfil its destiny and be 
received into favour by God. This belongs to faith. The 
individual must lay hold of the truth of the implicit unity 
of divine and human nature, and he lays hold of this 
truth by faith in Christ ; God is thus no longer for the 
individual something beyond this world, and the appre- 
hension of this truth is in direct contrast to the first 
fundamental characteristic, according to which the sub- 
ject is not what it ought or is intended to be. The 
child, inasmuch as it has been born in the Church, has 
been born in freedom and to freedom ; there no longer 
exists for it any absolute Other- Being, this Other-Being 
is considered as something overcome and conquered. 

This education in the truth is concerned only with 
preventing evil from appearing, for there is in Man, 
looked at from a general point of view, a possibility that 
it will appear ; but in so far as evil appears when a man 
does what is evil, it is at the same time something which 
is implicitly a nullity over which Spirit has power, and 
this power is of such a character that Spirit is able to 
make evil to cease to exist, to undo it. 

Repentance, Penitence signifies that the transgression 
has come to be recognised owing to a man's elevation to 
the truth, as something which has been virtually over- 
come and has no longer power in itself. That what has 
happened can be made as though it had not happened, 
cannot take place in a sensuous or material way, but in 
a spiritual and inward way. He is pardoned, he passes 
for one who has been adopted by the Father amongst 
men. 

This is the business of the Church, this training whereby 
the education of the spirit becomes ever more inward, 
and this truth becomes identical with his Self, with the 
will of Man, becomes his act of will, his Spirit. The 
battle is past, and Man is conscious that it is not a case 
of battle, as it is in the Persian religion or the Kantian 
Philosophy, in which Evil is indeed to be overcome, but 

VOL. III. I 



130 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

in which it confronts the Good in virtue of its own 
essential nature, and in which infinite progress is what 
is highest of all. 

If we get no further than the idea of what ought to 
be, then effort becomes endless, and the solution of the 
problem is removed infinitely far away. 

Here, on the contrary, the contradiction is already 
implicitly solved ; evil is known as something which in 
the Spirit is virtually and absolutely overcome, and in 
virtue of the fact of its being thus overcome the subject 
has only to make its will good, and evil, the evil action, 
disappears. 

Here there is the consciousness that there is no sin 
which cannot be forgiven if the natural will is surren- 
dered, unless the sin against the Holy Spirit, the denial 
of Spirit; for it alone is the power which can cancel 
everything. 

Very many difficulties arise in connection with this 
point, and they all spring from the conception of Spirit 
and of freedom. On the one hand, Spirit is regarded as 
universal Spirit, and, on the other hand, as Man's inde- 
pendent existence, as the independent existence of the 
single individual. It is necessary to say that it is the 
divine Spirit which effects regeneration ; this is divine 
free grace, for all that is divine is free ; it is not fate, it 
is not destiny. On the other hand, however, there is 
the self of the soul existing in a positive way, and it is 
sought accordingly to ascertain how much Man's share 
in the matter is ; a Velleitas, a Nisus is left to him, but 
persistence in firmly remaining in such a relation is itself 
unspiritual. The first condition of Being, the Being of 
the Self, is potentially the Notion, potentially Spirit, and 
what has to be abolished is the form of its immediacy, of 
its isolated, particular, independent Being or Being-for- 
self. This cancelling of self and coming to self on the 
part of the Notion is not, however, limited, universal 
Spirit. The act implied in belief in implicit reconcilia- 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 131 

tion, is, viewed in one aspect, the act of the subject, and, 
viewed in another aspect, it is the act of the Divine 
Spirit : faith is itself the Divine Spirit which works in 
the individual ; but this latter is not in this case a passive 
receptacle, but, on the contrary, the Holy Spirit is equally 
the Spirit of the subject, since it has faith ; in the exer- 
cise of this faith it acts against its natural life, discards 
it, puts it away. The difference between the three ways 
of representing this truth which have been employed may 
also serve to throw light on the antinomy which is in- 
volved in the course thus pursued by the soul. 

(a.) There is first the moral view which finds its 
antithesis in the absolutely external relation of self- 
consciousness, in a relation which, taken by itself, might 
appear either as first or as fourth, namely, in the oriental 
despotic relation which involves the annihilation of indi- 
vidual thought and will ; this moral view places the 
absolute end, the essence of Spirit, in an end connected 
with volition, and with volition, in fact, simply as its 
volition, so that this subjective aspect is the main point. 
Law, the Universal, the Rational is my rationality in me, 
and so, too, the willing of the end and its realisation 
which make it my own, my subjective end, are also mine ; 
and inasmuch as the idea of something higher or highest, 
of God and the Divine, enters into this view, this is itself 
merely a postulate of my reason, something posited by 
me. It ought, it is true, to be something which has not 
been posited, something which is a purely independent 
power ; still, although it is thus something not posited, I 
do not forget that this very fact of its not being posited 
is something which has been posited by me. It comes 
to the same thing whether this be stated in the form 
of a postulate, or whether we say, my feeling of depend- 
ence or of the need of salvation is what comes first, for 
in both cases the peculiar objectivity of truth has been 
abolished. 

(6.) In reference to the good resolve, and still more in 



132 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

reference to the Universal or Law, the pious man further 
adds that this is the divine will, and that the power of 
making the good resolution is itself really something 
divine, and he does not go beyond the universal relation 
here implied. 

Finally, (c.) The mystical and ecclesiastical view gives 
greater definiteness to this connection between God and 
the subjective act of will and Being, and brings it into 
the relation which is based on the nature of the Idea, The 
various ways in which this truth has been conceived of 
in the Church are simply attempts to solve the antinomy. 
The Lutheran conception of it is, without doubt, the most 
brilliant, even if it has not perfectly reached the form of 
the Idea. 

3. What comes last in this sphere of thought is the 
enjoyment of what is thus appropriated, the enjoyment 
of the presence of God. What we have here is the 
consciously felt presence of God, unity with God, the 
unio mystica, the feeling of God in the heart. 

This is the Sacrament of the Supper, in which Man 
has given him in a sensible immediate way the con- 
sciousness of his reconciliation with God, the abiding and 
indwelling of the Spirit in him. 

Since this is a feeling in the individual heart, it is 
also a movement, it presupposes the abolition of differ- 
ences whereby this negative unity comes into existence 
as the result. If the permanent preservation of the 
Spiritual Community, which is at the same time its 
unbroken creation, is itself the eternal repetition of the 
life, passion, and resurrection of Christ, then this repeti- 
tion gets a complete expression in the Sacrament of the 
Supper. The eternal sacrifice here just is, that the 
absolute substantial element, the unity of the subject 
and of the absolute object is offered to the individual to 
enjoy in an immediate way, and since the individual is 
reconciled, it follows that this complete reconciliation is 
the resurrection of Christ. Consequently the Supper is 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 133 

the central point of Christian doctrine, and it is from 
ic that all the differences in Christian doctrine get their 
colour and peculiar character. The conceptions formed 
of it are of three kinds : 

(i.) According to one conception the host, this out- 
ward, material, unspiritual thing is, owing to the act of 
consecration, the actually present God God as a thing, 
and in the form of an empirical thing, and thus, too, 
as empirically enjoyed by Man. Since God is thus 
known as something outward in the Supper which is the 
central point of doctrine, this externality is the basis of 
the whole Catholic religion. There arises from this a 
slavishness of knowledge and action ; this externality 
runs through all further definitions of the truth owing 
to the fact that the True is represented as something 
fixed and external. Being thus something which has a 
definite existence outside of the subject, it can come to 
be in the power of others ; the Church is in possession 
of it as it is of all the means of grace ; the subject is in 
this respect something passive and receptive which does 
not know what is true, right, and good, but has to accept 
it merely from others. 

(2.) According to the Lutheran conception the move- 
ment starts from something external which is an ordinary 
common thing, but the act of communion takes place and 
the inner feeling of the presence of God arises to the 
extent to which, and in so far as, the externality is eaten 
not simply in a corporal fashion, but in spirit and faith. 
It is only in spirit and in faith that we have the present 
God. The sensible presence is in itself nothing, nor does 
consecration make the host into an object worthy of 
adoration ; but, on the contrary, the object exists in faith 
only, and thus it is in the consuming and destroying of 
the sensuous that we have union with God and the con- 
sciousness of this union of the subject with God. Here 
the grand thought has arisen that, apart from the act 
of communion and faith, the host is a common, material 



134 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

thing ; the process truly takes place only in the spirit of 
the subject. 

In this case there is no transubstantiation transub- 
stantiation there certainly is, but it is of the kind by 
which what is external is absorbed and abolished; while 
the presence of God is of a purely spiritual sort, and is 
directly connected with the faith of the subject. 

(3.) According to this third conception God is present 
only in the conception we form of Him, only in memory, 
and thus His presence is so far merely immediate and 
subjective. This is the conception of the Eeformed 
Church, an unspiritual and merely lively remembrance 
of the Past, not a divine Presence, not a really spiritual 
existence. Here the Divine, the Truth has got lowered 
to the prose of the Enlightenment and of the mere 
Understanding, and expresses a merely moral relation. 

(c.) The Realisation of the Spiritual culminating in 
Universal Reality. 

This directly involves the transformation and remodel- 
ling of the Spiritual Community. 

Religion is here the spiritual religion, and the Spiritual 
Community exists primarily in what is inward, in Spirit 
as such. This inner element, this subjectivity which is 
present to itself as inward, not developed in itself, is 
feeling or sensation ; the Spiritual Community has also 
as an essential part of its character, consciousness, ordi- 
nary thought or mental representation, needs, impulses, 
a worldly existence in fact, but this brings with it dis- 
union, differentiation ; the divine objective Idea presents 
itself to consciousness as an Other outside of it which is 
given partly through authority and is partly appropriated 
in acts of devotion to put it otherwise, the moment of 
communion is merely a single moment, or the divine 
Idea, the divine content is not actually seen, but is only 
represented in the mind. The Now or actuality of 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 135 

communion as thus represented is transferred partly to 
a region beyond, to a heaven beyond the present, partly 
to the past and partly to the future. Spirit, however, 
is above all things present, and demands a real and 
complete presence ; it demands more than love merely, 
than sad ideas or mental pictures, it demands that the 
content should itself be present, or that the feeling, the 
sensation experienced should be developed and expanded. 

Thus the Spiritual Community, in its character as the 
Kingdom of God, has standing over against it, objectivity 
in general. Objectivity in the shape of an external 
immediate world is represented by the heart with its 
interests ; another form of objectivity is the objectivity 
of Eeflection, of abstract Thought, of the Understanding ; 
and the third and true form of objectivity is that of the 
Notion ; and we have now to consider how Spirit realises 
itself in these three elements. 

i. In religion the heart is implicitly reconciled; this 
reconciliation has thus its place in the heart, it is spiritual 
is the pure heart which attains this enjoyment of the 
presence of God in it, and consequently reconciliation, 
the enjoyment of being reconciled. This reconciliation 
is, however, abstract ; the self, the subject, that is to say, 
represents at the same time that aspect of this spiritual 
presence according to which a worldly element in a de- 
veloped form is actually found in the self, and thus the 
Kingdom of God, the Spiritual Community, has a relation 
to the worldly element. 

In order that the reconciliation be real, it is neces- 
sary that in this development, in this totality, the recon- 
ciliation should also be consciously known, be present, 
and be brought forward into actuality. The principles 
which apply to this worldly element actually exist in this 
spiritual element. 

The truth of the worldly element is the Spiritual, or, 
to put it more definitely, it means that the subject as an 
object of divine grace, as a being who is reconciled with 



136 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

God, has an infinite value by the very character which is 
essentially his, and which is further developed in the Spiri- 
tual Community. In accordance with this its essential 
character, the subject is accordingly recognised as being the 
infinite certainty of Spirit itself, as the eternity of Spirit. 

So far as this subject which is thus inherently infinite 
is concerned, the fact of its being determined or destined 
to infinitude is its freedom, and just means that it is a 
free person, and thus is also related to this world, to 
reality as subjectivity which is at home with itself, 
reconciled within itself, and is absolutely fixed and 
infinite subjectivity. This is the substantial element ; 
this specific character which thus belongs to it must 
form the basis in so far as it brings itself into relation 
with this world. 

The rationality, the freedom of the subject means 
that the subject is this something which has been freed 
and has attained to this condition of freedom through 
religion, that it is essentially free in virtue of its reli- 
gious character. What we are concerned with is to see 
how this reconciliation takes place within the worldly 
sphere itself. 

(l.) The first form of reconciliation is the immediate 
one, and just because of its being immediate it is not 
yet the true mode of reconciliation. This reconciliation 
shows itself as follows. At first the Spiritual Community, 
as representing the fact of reconciliation, the Spiritual, 
the fact of reconciliation with God in itself, stands aloof 
from the worldly sphere in an abstract way ; the Spiri- 
tual renounces the worldly sphere by its own act, takes 
up a negative relation to the world, and consequently to 
itself; for the world in the subject shows itself as the 
impulse to Nature, to social life, to art and science. 

The concrete element in the self, namely, the passions, 
is not able to justify itself in reference to the religious 
element by the fact of its being natural ; while ascetic 
withdrawal from the world implies that the heart does 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 137 

not get a concrete expansion and is to remain undeveloped, 
or, in other words, that the spiritual element, the state of 
reconciliation, and the life in which this reconciliation is 
to show itself, is to be, and is to continue to be, concen- 
trated in itself and undeveloped. It is, however, the 
very nature of Spirit to develop itself, to differentiate 
itself until it reaches the worldly sphere. 

(2.) The second form, of this reconciliation implies that 
the interests of the world and religious interests continue 
to be external to one another, and that still they ought 
to come into relation to each other. Thus the relation 
in which both stand is merely an external one, and it 
means that the one prevails over the other, and thus 
there is no reconciliation : the religious element, it is 
felt, should be the ruling element ; what has been recon- 
ciled, the Church namely, should rule the secular element, 
which is unreconciled. 

There is a union with the worldly element which is 
unreconciled, the worldly element in its purely crude 
state, and which in its purely crude state is merely brought 
under the sway of the other ; but the element which thus 
holds sway absorbs this worldly element into itself, all 
tendencies, all passions, everything, in short, which repre- 
sents worldly interests devoid of any spiritual element, 
make their appearance in the Church owing to the posi- 
tion of sovereignty thus attained, because the secular 
element is not reconciled in itself. 

Thus a sovereignty is reached by means of what is 
unspiritual, in which what is external is the ruling prin- 
ciple, and in which Man is in his general relationships 
directly outside of himself ; it is, in fact, the relation or 
condition of want of freedom. The element of disunion 
enters into everything that can be called human, into all 
kinds of impulses, and into all those relationships which 
have reference to the family, to active life, and life in the 
State ; and the ruling principle is that Man is not at home 
with himself, is in a region foreign to his nature. 



138 ' THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Man, in fact, in all these forms is in a condition of 
servitude, and all those forms which his life takes are 
held to be worthless, unholy, and he himself, by the very 
fact of his connection with them, is essentially something 
finite, disunited, and thus has no valid worth, since what 
possesses validity is an Other. 

This reconciliation is connected with worldly interests 
and with Man's own heart in such a way that it becomes 
the direct opposite of reconciliation. The further de- 
velopment of this condition of rupture in reconciliation 
itself, is accordingly what takes the form of the corruption 
of the Church the absolute contradiction of the Spiritual 
within itself. 

(3.) The third characteristic is that this contradiction 
cancels itself in Morality, that the principle of freedom 
has forced its way into secular life ; and since secular life 
so constructed is itself in conformity with the Notion, 
reason, truth, eternal truth, it is a freedom which has 
become concrete, the rational will. 

It is in the organisation of the State that the Divine 
has passed into the sphere of reality ; the latter is pene- 
trated by the former, and the existence of the secular 
element is justified in-and-for-itself, for its basis is the 
Divine Will, the law of right and freedom. The true 
reconciliation whereby the Divine realises itself in the 
region of reality is found in moral and legal life in the 
State ; this is the true disciplining of the secular life. 

The institutions of morality are divine, are holy, not 
in the sense in which what is holy is opposed to what is 
moral, as when it is held that celibacy represents what 
is holy as opposed to family life, or voluntary poverty 
as opposed to active acquisition by one's own efforts, to 
what is lawful. In the same way blind obedience passes 
for being something holy ; while, on the contrary, what 
makes morality is obedience in freedom, free, rational 
will, the obedience of the subject in respect of what is 
moral. In morality the reconciliation of religion with 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 139 

reality, with the secular life, is an actual and accom- 
plished fact. 

2. The second point is that the ideal side now emerges 
here on its own account. In this state in which Spirit 
is reconciled with itself, what is inward knows itself as 
being within the sphere of its own nature, knows that 
it is together with itself, and this knowledge that it is 
together with itself, not outside of itself, is just Thought, 
which is the state of reconciliation, the being together 
with self, the being at peace with self, but in a wholly 
abstract undeveloped condition of peace with itself. There 
thus arises the infinite demand that the content of reli- 
gion should verify its truth for Thought as well, and this 
is a necessary requirement which cannot be set aside. 

Thought is the Universal, the active expression of 
the Universal, and stands in contrast to the concrete in 
general, which represents the external. 

It is the Freedom of Eeason which has been won in 
religion, and which knows itself in Spirit as existing for 
itself. This freedom accordingly opposes itself to the 
purely unspiritual externality, to servitude ; for servi- 
tude is directly opposed to the conception of reconciliation 
and liberation, and thus thought enters in and destroys 
and bids defiance to externality in whatever form it may 
appear. 

This represents the negative and formal act which in 
its concrete form has been called the " Enlightenment," 
and which implies that thought sets itself to oppose ex- 
ternality, and that the freedom of Spirit, which is involved 
in reconciliation, is asserted. This thought, when it first 
appears, appears in the form of this abstract Universal, 
and sets itself against the concrete in general, and con- 
sequently against the Idea of God, against the theory 
that God is the Triune God and not a dead abstraction, 
but a Being related to Himself, who is at home with 
Himself and returns to Himself. Abstract thought 
attacks this doctrinal content, as held by the Church, 



140 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

with its principle of identity ; for this concrete content 
is in contradiction with this law of identity. In the 
concrete there are determinations, differences ; since ab- 
stract thought turns against externality in general, it is 
also opposed to difference as such, the relation of God 
to Man, the unity of the two, divine grace and human 
freedom ; for all this is the union of opposed determina- 
tions. The rule, however, for the Understanding, for this 
abstract thought, is abstract identity ; this kind of thought 
thus aims at dissolving all that is concrete, all determina- 
tions, all content in God, and accordingly reflection has 
as its final resultant merely the objectivity of identity 
itself, this, namely, that God is nothing but the Supreme 
Essence, without definite character or determination, 
empty ; for every determination makes what is deter- 
mined concrete. He is for cognition something beyond 
the present, for cognition or reasoned knowledge is know- 
ledge of a concrete content. Reflection in this its com- 
plete form is the antithesis of the Christian Church ; and 
as everything concrete in God is destroyed, this fact is 
expressed somewhat in this fashion Man cannot know 
God ; for to know God is to know Him in accordance 
with His attributes or determinations, but according to 
this view He remains a pure abstraction. This formula 
certainly contains the principle of freedom, of inward- 
ness, of religion even ; but it is, to begin with, conceived 
of in a merely abstract way. 

The Other, by means of which determination enters 
into this universality which exists alongside of this ab- 
straction, is nothing but what is contained in the natural 
inclinations, the impulses of the subject. Regarding the 
matter from this standpoint, it is accordingly said that 
Man is by nature good. Inasmuch as this pure sub- 
jectivity, this ideality, is pure freedom, it is certainly 
brought into connection with the essential character of 
the Good, but the Good itself must in this case equally 
remain an abstraction. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 141 

The determination of the Good here is the arbitrari- 
ness, the accidental nature of the subject in general, and 
this latter is thus the extreme or culminating point of 
this subjectivity, the freedom which renounces its claim 
to truth and to the development of truth, which thus 
moves within itself and knows that what it considers as 
having validity is simply its own determinations, and that 
it has the mastery over all that is called good and evil. 

This is an inner self-enclosed life which may indeed 
coexist with calm, lofty, and pious aspirations, but may 
as readily appear as hypocrisy or as vanity in its most 
extreme form. It is what is called the pious life of 
feeling, to which Pietism also restricts itself. Pietism 
recognises no objective truth, sets itself in opposition to 
dogmas, to the content of religion, and though it does 
indeed preserve the element of mediation, and still main- 
tains a certain relation to Christ, yet this relation is sup- 
posed to remain in the sphere of feeling, in the sphere of 
inner sentiment. Each person has thus his own God, 
Christ, &c. The element of particularity in which each 
has his own individual religion, his own theory of the 
Universe, &c., does undoubtedly exist in Man ; but in 
religion it is absorbed by life in the Spiritual Community, 
and for the truly pious man it has no longer any real 
worth and is laid aside. 

On this side of the empty essence of God there thus 
stands a finitude which is free on its own account and 
has become independent, which has an absolute value in 
itself, e.g., in the shape of the righteousness of individuals. 
The further consequence is, that not only is the objec- 
tivity of God thus put in a sphere beyond the present 
and negated, but all other objective characteristics which 
have validity in -and -for- themselves, and which have 
appeared in the world as Right, as what is moral, &c., 
absolutely disappear. Since the subject thus retreats to 
the extreme point of its infinity, the Good, all that is 
right, &c., are contained only in it, it takes all this as 



142 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

constituting its own subjective character, it is only its 
thought. What gives body to this Good is accordingly 
taken from natural caprice, from what is accidental, from 
passion, &c. This subject is further the consciousness 
that objectivity is shut up within it itself, and that this 
objectivity has no permanent existence ; it is only the 
principle of identity which has for it validity ; this 
subject is something abstract, it can be filled up with 
any kind of content, since it has the power to subsume 
every content which is thus planted in the heart of Man. 
Subjectivity is thus caprice itself, and is, in short, the 
knowledge of that power belonging to it whereby it pro- 
duces objectivity or the Good and gives it a content. 

The other development of this point of view, accord- 
ingly, is that the subject has no independent existence, 
is not for itself in reference to the unity which it has 
reached by emptying itself, it does not preserve its 
particularity as against it, but has for its specific aim 
self-absorption in the unity of God. The subject has 
thus no particular end, nor any objective end beyond 
simply the glory of the one God. What we have here 
is religion ; there is in it an affirmative relation to its 
Essence which is constituted by this One, in it the 
subject yields itself up. This religion has the same 
objective content as the Jewish religion, but the relation 
in which men stand to one another is broadened ; there 
is no particularity left in it, the Jewish idea of national 
value which establishes the relation in which Man stands 
to the One, is wanting here. Here there is no limitation, 
Man is related to this One as a purely abstract self-con- 
sciousness. This is the characteristic of the Moham- 
medan religion. It forms the antithesis of Christianity, 
because it occupies a like sphere with the Christian 
religion. It is, as it were, the Jewish spiritual religion, 
but this God exists for self-consciousness in Spirit which 
has merely abstract knowledge, and occupies a stage 
which is one with that occupied by the Christian religion, 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 143 

inasmuch as in it no kind of particularity is retained. 
The man who fears God is acceptable to Him, and Man 
has value only in so far as he finds his truth in the 
knowledge that this God is the One, the Essence. There 
is no recognition of the existence of any wall of partition 
between believers themselves or between them and God. 
Before God all specific distinction of the subject according 
to his standing or rank is done away with ; rank may 
exist, there may be slaves, but this is to be regarded as 
merely accidental. 

The contrast between the Christian and Mohammedan 
religions consists in the fact that in Christ the spiritual 
element is developed in a concrete way, and is known as 
Trinity, i.e., as Spirit, and that the history of Man, the 
relation in which he stands to the One, is a concrete 
history. It takes its start from the natural will, which 
is not as it ought to be, and the yielding up of this will 
is the act whereby it reaches this its essence by means 
of this negation of itself. The Mohammedan hates and f 
proscribes everything concrete, God is the absolute One, 
and as against Him Man retains for himself no end, no 
particularity, no interests of his own. Man as actually 
existing does undoubtedly particularise himself in his 
natural inclinations and interests, and these are here all 
the more savage and unrestrained that reflection is want- 
ing in connection with them ; but this again involves 
something which is the complete opposite, namely, the 
tendency to let everything take its course, an indifference 
in respect of every kind of end, absolute fatalism, in- 
difference in respect of life, while no practical end is 
regarded as having any essential worth. Since, how- 
ever, Man is as a matter of fact practical and active, the 
end to be pursued can only be to bring about the wor- 
ship of the One amongst all men, and accordingly the 
Mohammedan religion is essentially fanatical. 

Reflection, as we have seen, occupies the same stand- 
point as Mohammedanism in so far as it maintains that 



144 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

God has no content, is not concrete. Thus the manifes- 
tation of God in the flesh, the exaltation of Christ to the 
position of Son of the God, the transfiguration of the 
finitude of the world and of self-consciousness until they 
appear as the infinite self-determination of God, have no 
place here. Christianity is held to be a system of teach- 
ing or set of doctrines, and Christ an ambassador from 
God, a divine teacher, and so a teacher like Socrates, only 
a still more distinguished teacher, since he was without 
sin. This, however, is to go only half way, it is a com- 
promise. Christ was either merely a man, or he was the 
" Son of Man." There would thus be nothing left of the 
divine history, and Christ would be spoken of as he is in 
the Koran. The difference between this standpoint and 
Mohammedanism consists merely in the fact that the 
latter, the conceptions of which are bathed in the ether 
of illimitableness, and which represents this infinite inde- 
pendence, directly gives up all particular interests, enjoy- 
ment, position, individual knowledge, all "vanity" in short. 
On the other hand, rationalistic Enlightenment gives Man 
an abstract standing on his own account, since for it God 
is beyond this world and has no affirmative relation to the 
subject, so that Man recognises the affirmative Universal 
only in so far as it is in him, and yet has it in him in a 
merely abstract wa}', and accordingly what gives it body 
or substance is taken only from what is accidental and 
arbitrary. 

Still we must recognise the presence of reconciliation 
in this last form too, and thus this final manifestation is 
also a realisation of Faith. Since, in fact, all content, all 
truth perishes in this particular subjectivity which knows 
itself infinitely in itself, the principle of subjective free- 
dom has as a consequence come to be consciously known. 
What is called in the Spiritual Community the inner life, 
is now developed in itself ; it is not only something 
inward, conscience, but it is subjectivity which differen- 
tiates itself makes distinctions within itself, is concrete ; 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 145 

it appears as its own objectivity, it knows the Universal 
as being in itself, as something which it produces out 
of itself, it is the subjectivity which is independent, for 
itself, self-conscious, determines itself within itself, and 
is thus the complete development of the subjective 
extreme until it has reached the Idea in itself. The 
defect here is that this is merely formal, that it misses 
having true objectivity, it represents the extreme point 
of formal spiritual development without inner necessity. 
If the Idea is to get a truly complete form, it is neces- 
sary that the objectivity should be set free, should be 
the totality of objectivity in itself. 

The result of this objectivity, therefore, is, that every- 
thing in the subject is refined away, without objectivity, 
without fixed character, without development in God. 
This final and culminating point thus reached by the 
formal culture of our day is at the same time the most 
extreme crudeness, because it possesses merely the form 
of culture. 

We have so far recognised the presence of these two 
mutually opposing extremes in the development of the 
Spiritual Community. The one was that unfreedom, that 
servitude of the Spirit in the absolute region of freedom ; 
the other was abstract subjectivity, subjective freedom 
without content. 

3. What we have finally still to consider is, that 
subjectivity develops the content out of itself, but does 
this in accordance with necessity knows and recognises 
the content to be necessary and that it is objective, that it 
has an essential existence of its own, is in-and-for-itself. 
This is the standpoint of philosophy, according to which 
the content takes refuge in the Notion and by means of 
thought gets its restoration and justification. 

This thought is not merely the process of abstraction and 
determination which is governed by the law of identity ; 
this thought is itself essentially concrete, and thus it is 
comprehension, grasping in the Notion, it means that 

VOL. III. K 



146 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the Notion so determines itself as to take on the form 
of totality, of the Idea. 

It is free reason which has an essential existence, 
is in-and-f or- itself, which develops the content of truth 
and justifies it in knowledge, recognises and cognises one 
truth. The purely subjective standpoint, the volatilisation 
of all content, the Enlightenment of the Understanding, 
together with Pietism, do not recognise any content, and 
consequently no truth. 

The Notion, however, prod-uves the truth this is sub- 
jective freedom but at the same time recognises this con- 
tent to be something not produced, to be something which 
is inherent and essentially true, true in -and -for -itself. 
This objective standpoint is alone capable of expressing 
and attesting the witness of the Spirit in a way which 
betokens intellectual training and thought, and it is in- 
volved in the position taken up by the better kind of 
dogmatic theology of our day. 

This standpoint consequently supplies us with the 
justification of religion, and in particular of the Christian 
or true religion ; it knows the content in accordance 
with its necessity, in accordance with its reason, and so, 
too, it knows the forms also in the development of this 
content. 

What these forms are we have already seen, namely, 
the manifestation of God, that representation for the sen- 
suous, spiritual consciousness which has arrived at uni- 
versality, at thought, that complete development which 
exists for Spirit. 

In the act of justifying the content and the forms, 
in getting a rational knowledge of the specific character 
of the manifestation, thought at the same time also 
knows the limits of the forms. Enlightenment knows 
only of negation, of limit, of determinateness as such, 
and because of this is unjust to the content. 

Form or determinateness is not merely finitude, or 
limit, but rather the form, as totality of the form is 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 147 

itself the Notion, and these forms are necessary and 
essential. 

Owing to the fact that reflection has invaded the domain 
of religion, thought or reflection takes up a hostile atti- 
tude to the ordinary or popular idea in religion and to 
its concrete content. Thought, when it has thus begun, 
never pauses again, but goes on its way, empties feeling, 
heaven, and the knowing mind, and the religious content 
accordingly takes refuge in the Notion. Here it must 
get its justification, here thought must conceive of itself 
as concrete and free, preserving the differences not as 
if they were only posited or dependent on something, 
but allowing them to appear as free, and consequently 
recognising the content as objective. 

It is the business of philosophy to establish the 
relation in which thought stands to the two preceding 
stages. Religion, the need felt by the pious mind, can 
take refuge in " experience," in feeling, as well as in 
the Notion, and limit itself to this, and thus give up the 
search after truth, renounce the possibility of knowing any 
content, so that the Holy Church has no longer any com- 
munion in it, but splits up into atoms. For what com- 
munion there is is in doctrine ; but here each individual 
has a feeling of his own, has his own sensations or experi- 
ences, and his particular theory of the universe. This form 
does not answer to Spirit which also wishes to know 
what its relation is to doctrine. Philosophy thus stands 
opposed to two points of view. On the one hand, it 
appears to be opposed to the Church, and has this 
in common with culture and reflection, that in compre- 
hending the popular religious idea it does not keep to 
the forms of the popular idea> but has to comprehend 
it in thought, though in doing this it recognises that 
the form of the popular idea is also necessary. But 
the Notion is that higher element which also embraces 
within it different forms and allows their right to exist. 
The second way in which it takes up an attitude of oppo- 



148 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

sition is when it appears in antagonism to Enlightenment, 
to the theory which holds that the content is of no con- 
sequence, to opinion, to the despair which renounces the 
truth. The aim of philosophy is to know the truth, 
to know God, for He is the absolute truth, inasmuch 
as nothing else is worth troubling about save God and 
the unfolding of God's nature. Philosophy knows God as 
essentially concrete, as spiritual, real universality which 
is not jealous but imparts itself. Light by its very 
nature imparts itself. Whoever says that God cannot 
be known, says He is jealous, and so makes no earnest 
effort to believe iu Him, however much he may speak 
of God. Enlightenment, that conceit, that vanity of the 
Understanding is the most violent opponent of philosophy, 
and is displeased when the latter points to the element 
of reason in the Christian religion, when it shows that 
the witness of the Spirit, of truth, is lodged in religion. 
Philosophy, which is theology, is solely concerned with 
showing the rationality of religion. 

In philosophy, religion gets its justification from think- 
ing consciousness. Piety of the naive kind stands iu no 
need of this, it receives the truth as authority, and expe- 
riences satisfaction, reconciliation by means of this truth. 

In faith the true content is certainly already found, 
but there is still wanting to it the form of thought. All 
forms such as we have already dealt with, feeling, popu- 
lar ideas, and such like, may certainly have the form of 
truth, but they themselves are not the true form which 
makes the true content necessary. Thought is the ab- 
solute judge before which the content must verify and 
attest its claims. 

Philosophy has been reproached with setting itself 
above religion ; this, however, is false as an actual matter 
of fact, for it possesses this particular content only and 
no other, though it presents it in the form of thought ; 
it sets itself merely above the form of faith, the content 
is the same in both cases. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 149 

The form of the subject as an individual who feels, &c., 
concerns the subject as a single individual ; but feeling 
as such is not rejected by philosophy. The question 
merely is as to whether the content of feeling is the truth, 
whether it can prove itself to be true in thought. Philo- 
sophy thinks what the subject as such feels, and leaves it 
to the latter to settle with its feeling. Feeling is thus 
not rejected by philosophy ; on the contrary, it simply 
gets through philosophy its true content. 

But, in so far as thought begins to place itself in op- 
position to the concrete, the process of thought then con- 
sists in carrying through this opposition until it reaches 
reconciliation. This reconciliation is philosophy ; so far 
philosophy is theology, it sets forth the reconciliation 
of God with Himself and with Nature, and shows that 
Nature, Other-Being is divine, that it partly belongs to 
the very nature of finite Spirit to rise into the state of 
reconciliation, and that it partly reaches this state of 
reconciliation in the history of the world. 

This religious knowledge thus reached through the 
Notion is not universal in its nature, and it is further 
only knowledge in the Spiritual Community, and thus we 
get in reference to the Kingdom of God three stages or 
positions : the first position is that of immediate naive 
religion and faith ; the second, the position of the 
Understanding, of the so-called cultured, of reflection 
and Enlightenment ; and finally, the third position, the 
stage of philosophy. 

But if now, after having considered the origin and 
permanent existence of the Spiritual Community, we see 
that in attaining realisation in its spiritual reality it falls 
into this condition of inner disruption, then this realisa- 
tion appears to be at the same time its disappearance. 
But ought we to speak here of destruction when the 
Kingdom of God is founded eternally, when the Holy 
Spirit as such lives eternally in its Spiritual Community, 
and when the gates of Hell are not to prevail against the 



I5o THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Church ? To speak of the Spiritual Community passing 
away is to end with a discordant note. 

Only, how can it be helped ? This discordant note is 
actually present in reality. Just as in the time of the 
Roman Empire, because universal unity in religion had 
disappeared, arid the Divine was profaned, and because, 
further, political life was universally devoid of principle, 
of action, and of confidence, reason took refuge only in 
the form of private right, or, to put it otherwise, because 
what was by its very nature essential, what existed in- 
and-for-itself was given up, individual well-being was 
elevated to the rank of an end, so, too, is it now. Moral 
views, individual opinion and conviction without objective 
truth, have attained authority, and the pursuit of private 
rights and enjoyment is the order of the day. When the 
time is fulfilled in which speculative justification, justi- 
fication by means of the Notion, is what is needed, then 
the unity of the outer and inner no longer exists in 
immediate consciousness, in the world of reality, and in 
the sphere of Faith nothing is justified. The rigidity of 
an objective command, an external direction, the power 
of the State can effect nothing here ; the process of decay 
has gone too deep for that. When the Gospel is no 
longer preached to the poor, when the salt has lost its 
savour, and all the foundations have been tacitly removed, 
then the people, for whose ever solid reason truth can 
exist only in a pictorial conception, no longer know how 
to assist the impulses and emotions they feel within 
them. They are nearest to the condition of infinite 
sorrow ; but since love has been perverted to a love and 
enjoyment from which all sorrow is absent, they seem to 
themselves to be deserted by their teachers. These latter 
have, it is true, brought help to themselves by means of 
reflection, and have found their satisfaction in finitude, in 
subjectivity and its virtuosity, and consequently in what 
is empty and vain, but the substantial kernel of the 
people cannot find its satisfaction there. 



THE ABSOLUTE RELIGION 151 

For us philosophical knowledge has harmonised this 
discord, and the aim of these lectures has just been to 
reconcile reason and religion, to show how we know this 
latter to be in all its manifold forms necessary, and to 
rediscover in revealed religion the truth and the Idea. 

But this reconciliation is itself merely a partial one 
without outward universality. Philosophy forms in this 
connection a sanctuary apart, and those who serve in it 
constitute an isolated order of priests, who must not mix 
with the world, and whose work is to protect the posses- 
sions of Truth. How the actual present-day world is 
to find its way out of this state of disruption, and what 
form it is to take, are questions which must be left to 
itself to settle, and to deal with them is not the immediate 
practical business and concern of philosophy. * 



LECTURES ON THE PROOFS OF THE 
EXISTENCE OF GOD 



FIRST LECTURE 

THESE Lectures are devoted to the consideration of the 
proofs of the existence of God. The occasion for them 
is this. I had at first to make up my mind to give 
only one set of lectures in this summer session on philo- 
sophical knowledge as a whole, and then afterwards I 
felt I would like to add a second set on at least one 
separate subject of knowledge. I have therefore chosen 
a subject which is connected with the other set of lectures 
which I gave on logic, and constitutes, not in substance, 
but in form, a kind of supplement to that set, inasmuch 
as it is concerned with only a particular aspect of the 
fundamental conceptions of logic. These lectures are 
therefore chiefly meant for those of my hearers who 
were present at the others, and to them they will be 
most easily intelligible. 

But inasmuch as the task we have set ourselves is to 
consider the proofs of the existence of God, it would 
appear as if only one aspect of the matter belongs to the 
subject of logic, namely, the nature of proof. The other, 
again, the content, which is God Himself, belongs to a 
different sphere, that of religion, and to the consideration 
of it by thought, to the philosophy of religion. In point 
of fact, it is a portion of this branch of knowledge which 
has to be set apart and treated by itself in these lectures. 
In what follows it will more clearly be seen what relation 
this part bears to the entirety of the doctrine of religion ; 
and further, that this doctrine in so far as it is scientific, 
and what belongs to the sphere of logic, do not fall out- 
side one another to the extent that would appear from the 
first statement of our aim, and that what is logical does 

55 



156 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

not constitute the merely formal side, but, in fact, occupies 
the very centre point of the content. 

The first thing we encounter when we seek to make a 
beginning with the execution of our design is the general, 
and, so far as this design is concerned, repugnant, point 
of view of the prepossessions of present-day culture. If 
the object, God, is in itself capable of producing exalta- 
tion of mind by its very name, and of stirring our soul to 
its innermost depths, our lofty expectation may just as 
quickly die away when we reflect that it is the proofs of 
the existence of God with which we are about to concern 
ourselves. For the proofs of the existence of God are to 
such an extent fallen into discredit that they pass for 
something antiquated, belonging to the metaphysics of 
days gone by ; a barren desert, out of which we have 
escaped and brought ourselves back to a living faith ; 
the region of arid Understanding, out of which we have 
once more raised ourselves to the warm feeling of religion. 
The attempt to renovate, by means of new applications 
and artifices of an acute Understanding, those rotten props 
of our belief that there is a God, which have passed for 
proofs, or to improve the places which have become weak 
through attacks and counter-proofs, could of itself gain 
no favour merely by its good intention. For it is not 
this or that proof, or this or that form and way of putting 
it, that has lost its weight, but the very proving of reli- 
gious truth has so much lost credit with the mode of 
thought peculiar to our time that the impossibility of 
such proof is already a generally accepted opinion. Nay 
more, it has come to be regarded as irreligious to place 
confidence in such reasoned knowledge, and to seek by 
such a path to reach a sure conviction regarding God and 
His nature, or even regarding His mere existence. This 
business of proof, therefore, is so much out of date, that 
the proofs themselves are barely even historically known 
here and there ; and even to theologians, that is to say, 
people who desire to have a scientific acquaintance with 
religious truths, they are sometimes unknown. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 157 

The proofs of the existence of God have originated in 
the necessity of satisfying thought and reason. But 
this necessity has assumed, in modern culture, quite a 
different position from that which it had formerly, and 
those points of view must first of all be considered which 
have presented themselves in this reference. Yet since 
they are known in their general aspects, and this is not 
the place to follow them back to their foundations, 
we need only recall them, and, in fact, limit ourselves 
to the form which they assume within the sphere of 
Christianity. It is in this region that the conflict be- 
tween faith and reason in Man himself first finds a basis, 
and that doubt enters his soul, and can reach the fearful 
height of depriving him of all peace. Thought must 
indeed touch the earlier religions of imagination, as we 
may shortly call them ; it must turn itself with its oppo- 
site principles directly against their sensuous pictures 
and all else in them. The contradictions, the strife and 
enmity which have thus arisen belong to the external 
history of philosophy. But the collisions between philo- 
sophy and religion here get the length of hostility merely, 
and have not come to be that inner division of mind and 
feeling, such as we see in Christianity, where the two 
sides which come into contradiction get possession of the 
depth of the Spirit as their single and consequently 
common source, and in this position, bound together in 
their contradiction, are able to disturb this spot itself, 
the Spirit in its inmost nature. The expression " faith " 
is reserved for Christianity ; we do not speak of Greek 
or Egyptian faith, or of a faith in Zeus or Apis. Faith 
expresses the inwardness of certainty, and certainty of 
the deepest and most concentrated kind, as distinguished 
from all other opinion, conception, persuasion, or volition. 
This inwardness, at once as being what is deepest and 
at the same time most abstract, comprises thought itself; 
a contradiction of this faith by thought is therefore the 
most painful of all divisions in the depths of the Spirit. 



158 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Yet such misery is happily, if we may so express our- 
selves, not the only form in which the relation of faith 
and knowledge is to be found. On the contrary, this re- 
lation presents itself in a peaceful form, in the conviction 
that revelation, faith, positive religion, and, on the other 
hand, reason and thought in general, must not be in con- 
tradiction, and not only that they may be in harmony, 
but also that God does not so contradict Himself in His 
works, cannot so contradict Himself, as that the human 
Spirit in its essence, in its thinking reason, in that which 
it must have come from the very first to regard as divine 
in itself, could get into conflict with what has come to it 
through greater enlightenment about the nature of God 
and Man's relation to that nature. During the whole of 
the Middle Ages, theology was understood to mean no- 
thing else than a scientific knowledge of Christian truths, 
that is to say, a knowledge essentially connected with 
philosophy. The Middle Ages were far enough away from 
taking the historical knowledge of faith for scientific 
knowledge ; in the Fathers and in what may be reckoned 
generally as historical material, they sought only authori- 
ties, edification, and information on the doctrines of the 
Church. The opposite tendency is simply to search out 
the human origin of the articles of faith by the historical 
treatment of the older evidences and works of every kind, 
and in this way to reduce them to the minimum of their 
most primitive form. This form must be regarded as 
wholly unfruitful in deeper knowledge and development, 
'because it is in contradiction with that Spirit, which, after 
the removal of that primitive form as something imme- 
diately present, had been poured out on the adherents of 
these doctrines, in order to lead them now, for the first 
time, into all truth. The tendency here described was 
unknown in these times. In the belief in the unity 
of this Spirit with itself, the whole of these doctrines, 
even those which are most abstruse for reason, are re- 
garded from the point of view of thinking, and the 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 159 

attempt is made, in the case of all of these which are 
recognised as in themselves the content of belief, to 
prove them on rational grounds. The great theologian 
Anselm of Canterbury, whom we shall have to consider 
elsewhere, declares in this sense that, if we are firm in 
the faith, it is idleness, negligentice mihi esse videtur, not 
to know what we believe. In the Protestant Church 
it has in the same way come about that the rational 
knowledge of religious truths is cherished and held in 
honour in combination with theology or along with it. 
The point of interest was to see how far the natural 
light of reason, human reason by itself, could progress 
in the knowledge of the truth, with the important reser- 
vation that through religion Man can learn higher truths 
than reason is in a position to discover of itself. 

Here we come upon two distinct spheres, and, to begin 
with, a peaceful relation between them is justified by 
means of the distinction that the teachings of positive 
religion are above but not against reason. This activity 
of thinking knowledge found itself stimulated and sup- 
ported from without through the example which lay be- 
fore its eyes in the pre-Christian, or, speaking generally, 
non-Christian religions. This showed that the human 
spirit, even when left to itself, has attained to deep 
insight into the nature of God, and with all its errors 
has arrived at great truths, even at fundamental truths, 
such as the existence of God and the purer idea, free from 
sensuous ingredients, of that existence, the immortality 
of the soul, providence, and such like. Thus positive 
doctrine and the rational knowledge of religious truths 
have been peacefully pursued alongside of one another. 
This position of reason in relation to dogma was, how- 
ever, different from that confidence of reason which was 
first considered, which dared to approach the highest 
mysteries of doctrine, such as the Trinity, and the 
incarnation of Christ ; whereas, on the contrary, the 
point of view referred to after the one just mentioned 



I6o THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

timidly confined itself to the business of merely venturing 
through the medium of thought to deal with what the 
Christian religion possesses in common with heathen and 
non-Christian religions in general, and what must there- 
fore remain a part merely of what is abstract in religion. 
But when once we have become conscious of the differ- 
ence of these two spheres, we must pronounce the relation 
of equality in which faith and reason are to be regarded 
as standing each alongside of the other, to be unintelli- 
gible, or else to be a misleading pretence. The tendency 
of thought to seek unity leads of necessity to the com- 
parison of these spheres first of all, and then when they 
once pass for different, to the agreement of faith with 
itself alone, and of thought with itself alone, so that each 
sphere refuses to recognise the other and rejects it. It 
is one of the commonest self-deceptions of the Under- 
standing to regard the element of difference, which is 
found in the one central point of Spirit, as though it 
must not necessarily advance to opposition and so to 
contradiction. The point at which the conflict on the 
part of Spirit begins has been reached as soon as what 
is concrete in Spirit has, by means of analysis, attained 
to the consciousness of difference. All that partakes of 
Spirit is concrete ; in this we have before us the Spiritual 
in its most profound aspect, that of Spirit as the concrete 
element of faith and thought. The two are not only 
mixed up in the most manifold way, in immediate passing 
over from one side to the other, but are so inwardly bound 
up together that there is no faith which does not contain 
within itself reflection, argumentation, or, in fact, thought, 
and, on the other hand, no thinking which does not, 
even if it be only for the moment, contain faith, for 
faith in general is the form of any presupposition, of any 
assumption, come whence it may, which lies firmly at the 
foundation momentary faith. This means that even in 
free thinking that which now exists as a presupposition, is 
a comprehended result, thought out either before or after, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 161 

but in this transformation of the presupposition into a 
result, again has a side which is a presupposition, an 
assumption or unconscious immediacy of the activity of 
the Spirit. 

Yet the explanation of the nature of free self-conscious 
thought we must here leave on one side, and rather remark 
that for the attainment of this essentially and actually 
existent union of faith and thought a long time has been 
necessary more than fifteen hundred years and that it 
has cost the most severe toil to reach the point at which 
thought has escaped from its absorption in faith, and 
attained to the abstract consciousness of its freedom, and 
thereby of its independence and its complete self-suffi- 
ciency, in the light of which nothing can have validity for 
thought which has not come before its judgment-seat, and 
been then justified as admissible. Thought thus taking 
its stand upon the extreme point of its freedom and it is 
only completely free in this extreme point and rejecting 
authority and faith in general, has driven faith in like 
manner to take its stand in an abstract fashion upon 
itself, and to attempt entirely to free itself from thought. 
At all events, it has arrived at the point of declaring 
itself to be freed from and not to require thought. 
Wrapped up in unconsciousness of the at all events 
small amount of thought which must remain to it, it goes 
on to declare thought to be incapable of reaching truth 
and destructive of it, so that thought is capable of compre- 
hending one thing only, its incapacity to grasp the truth 
and see into it, and of proving to itself its own nothing- 
ness, with the result that suicide is its highest vocation. 
So completely has the relation in the view of the time 
been reversed, that faith has now become exalted as 
immediate knowledge in opposition to thought, as the 
only means of attaining to the truth, just as formerly, 
on the other hand, only that could give peace to Man 
of which he could become conscious as truth through 
proof by thought. 

VOL. III. L 



i62 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

This standpoint of opposition cannot better show how 
important and far-reaching it is than when it is con- 
sidered in relation to the subject which we have set our- 
selves to discuss, the knowledge of God. In the working 
out into opposition of the difference between faith and 
thought, it is immediately apparent that they have 
reached formal extremes in which abstraction is made 
from all content, so that in the first instance they are 
no longer opposed as concretely defined religious faith 
and thought about religious subjects, but abstractly, as 
faith in general, and as thought in general, or knowledge, 
in so far as this last does not yield merely forms of 
thought, but gives us a content in and with its truth. 
From this point of view the knowledge of God is made 
dependent on the question as to the nature of knowledge 
in general, and before we can pass to the investigation 
of the concrete it seems necessary to ascertain whether 
the consciousness of what is true can and must be think- 
ing knowledge, or, faith. Our proposed consideration of 
the knowledge of the existence of God thus changed into 
this general consideration of knowledge, just as the new 
philosophical epoch has made it the beginning and foun- 
dation of all philosophical speculation that the nature of 
knowledge itself is to be examined before the actual, 
i.e., concrete knowledge of an object. "We thus incurred 
the danger a danger, however, necessary in the interests 
of thoroughness of having to trace the subject further 
back than the time at our disposal for carrying out the 
aim of these lectures would permit of our doing. If, 
however, we look more closely at the demand which 
appears to have met us, it becomes perfectly plain that 
it is only the subject that has changed with it, not the 
thing. In both cases, either if we admitted the demand 
for that inquiry, or stuck directly to our theme, we 
should have to know, and in that case we should have a 
subject, too, in the shape of knowledge itself. And as in 
doing so we should not have emerged from the activity 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 163 

of knowledge, from real knowledge, there is nothing to 
hinder our leaving the other subject which it is not our 
aim to consider, alone, and thus stick to our own subject. 
It will further appear, as we follow out our purpose, that 
the knowledge of our subject will also in itself justify 
itself as knowledge. That in true and real knowledge 
the justification of knowledge will and must lie, might 
admittedly be said in advance, for to say so is simply a 
tautology, just as we may know in advance that the 
desired way round, the desiring to know knowledge 
before actual knowledge, is superfluous just because it 
is inherently absurd. If under the process of knowledge 
we figure to ourselves an external operation in which it 
is brought into a merely mechanical relation with an 
object, that is to say, remains outside it, and is only 
externally applied to it, knowledge is presented in such 
a relation as a particular thing for itself, so that it may 
well be that its forms have nothing in common with 
the qualities of the object ; and thus when it concerns 
itself with an object, it remains only in its own forms, 
and does not reach the essential qualities of the object, 
that is to say, does not become real knowledge of it. In 
such a relation knowledge is determined as finite, and as 
of the finite ; in its object there remains something essen- 
tially inner, whose notion is thus unattainable by and 
foreign to knowledge, which finds here its limit and its 
end, and is on that account limited and finite. But to 
take such a relation as the only one, or as final or ab- 
solute, is a purely made-up and unjustifiable assumption 
of the Understanding. Eeal knowledge, inasmuch as it 
does not remain outside the object, but in point of fact 
occupies itself with it, must be immanent in the object, 
the proper movement of its nature, only expressed in the 
form of thought and taken up into consciousness. 

We have now provisionally indicated those standpoints 
of culture which in the case of such material as we have 
before us ought in the present day to be taken into 



1 64 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

account. It is pre-eminently, or, properly speaking, only 
here that it is self-evident that the proposition already 
laid down, according to which the consideration of know- 
ledge is not different from the consideration of its object, 
must hold good without limitation. I will therefore at 
once indicate the general sense in which the proposed 
theme, the proofs of the existence of God, is taken, and 
which will be shown to be the true one. It is that they 
ought to comprise the elevation of the human spirit to God, 
and express it for thought, just as the elevation itself is an 
elevation of thought and into the kingdom of thought. 

And to begin with, as regards knowledge, Man is 
essentially consciousness, and thus what is felt, the con- 
tent, the determinateness which a feeling or sensation has, 
is also in consciousness as something presented in the form 
of an idea. That in virtue of which feeling is religious 
feeling, is the divine content ; it is therefore essentially 
something of which we have knowledge. But this con- 
tent is in its essence no sensuous perception or sensuous 
idea ; it does not exist for imagination, but only for 
thought ; God is Spirit, only for Spirit, and only for pure 
Spirit, that is, for thought. This is the root of such a 
content, even though imagination and even sense-percep- 
tion may afterwards accompany it, and this content itself 
may enter into feeling. It is the elevation of the thinking 
Spirit to that which is the highest thought, to God, that 
we thus wish to consider. 

This elevation is besides essentially rooted in the nature 
of our mind. It is necessary to it, and it is this necessity 
that we have before us in this elevation, and the setting 
forth of this necessity itself is nothing else than what we 
call proof. Therefore we have not to prove this elevation 
from the outside ; it proves itself in itself, and this means 
nothing else than that it is by its very nature necessary. 
We have only to look to its own process, and we have 
there, since it is necessary in itself, the necessity, insight 
into the nature of which has to be vouched for by proof. 



SECOND LECTURE 

IF the undertaking which is commonly called proof of 
the existence of God has been understood in the form 
in which it was set forth in the first lecture, the chief 
objection to it will have been got rid of. For the nature 
of proof was held to consist in this, that it is only the con- 
sciousness of the proper movement of the object in itself. 
If this thought might be attended with difficulties in 
its application to other objects, these difficulties would 
necessarily disappear in the case of the object with 
which we are concerned, for it is not a passive and 
external object, but really a subjective movement, the 
elevation of the Spirit to God, an activity, the following 
of a certain course, a process, and thus has in it that 
necessary procedure which constitutes proof, and which 
has only to be taken up and studied in order that it 
may be seen to involve proof. But the expression proof 
carries with it too definitely the idea of a merely sub- 
jective line of thought to be followed on our behoof, to 
allow of the conception of it just stated being considered 
sufficient in itself apart from any attempt to expressly 
examine and get rid of this contrasted idea. In this 
lecture, then, we must first come to an understanding 
about the nature of proof in general, and with especial 
definiteness as regards that aspect of it which we here 
put aside and exclude. It is not our business to assert 
that there is no proof of the kind indicated, but to assign 
its limits, and to see that it is not, as is falsely thought, 
the only form of proof. This is bound up with the con- 
trast drawn between immediate and mediated knowledge, 
in which in our time the chief interest centres in connec- 



166 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

tion with religious knowledge, aud even the religious 
frame of mind itself, which must accordingly be likewise 
considered. 

The distinction, which has already been touched upon 
in connection with knowledge, implies that two kinds of 
proof must be taken into account, of which the one is 
clearly that which we use simply as an aid to knowledge, 
as something subjective, whose activity and movement 
have their place within ourselves, and are not the peculiar 
movement of the thing considered. That this kind of 
proof finds a place in the scientific knowledge of finite 
things and their finite content, becomes apparent when 
we examine the nature of the procedure more closely. 
Let us take for this purpose an example from a science 
in which this method of proof is admittedly applied in 
its most complete form. If we prove a geometrical pro- 
position every part of the proof must in part carry its 
justification within itself, so also when we solve an equa- 
tion in algebra. In part, however, the whole course of 
procedure is defined and justified through the aim which 
we have in connection with this, and because that end is 
attained by such procedure. But we are very well aware 
that that of which the quantitive value has been deve- 
loped out of the equation, has not as an actual thing run 
through these operations in order to reach the quantity 
which it possesses, and that the magnitude of the geo- 
metrical lines, angles, and so on, has not gone through 
and been brought about by the series of propositions by 
which we have arrived at it as representing a result. The 
necessity which we see in such proof corresponds indeed 
to the individual properties of the object itself, these 
relations of quantity actually belong to it ; but the pro- 
gress in connecting the one with the other is something 
which goes on entirely within us ; it is a process for 
realising the aim we have in view, namely, to see into 
the meaning of the thing, not a course in which the 
object arrives at its inherent relations and their connec- 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 167 

tion. It does not thus create itself, and is not created, as 
we create it and its relations in the process of attaining 
insight into it. 

Besides proof proper, of which the essential character- 
istic for this is all that is necessary for the purpose of 
our investigation has been brought out, we find further, 
that in the region of finite knowledge the term proof is 
also applied to what, when more closely examined, is only 
the indicating of something, the pointing out of an idea, a 
proposition, a law, and so on in experience. Historical 
proof we do not require from the point of view from 
which we here consider knowledge, to elaborate in detail ; 
it depends for its material on experience, or rather per- 
ception. Looked at in one light, it makes no difference 
that it has reference to foreign perceptions and their 
evidences ; argumentation, that is to say, the exercise of 
understanding proper regarding the objective connection 
of circumstances and actions, makes these data into pre- 
suppositions and fundamental assumptions, just as its 
criticism of evidences has done in drawing its conclusions. 
But in so far as argument and criticism constitute the 
other essential side of historical proof, such proof treats 
its data as being the ideas of other people ; the subjective 
element directly enters into the material, and the reason- 
ing about and combination of that material is likewise 
subjective activity ; so that the course and activity of 
knowledge has quite different ingredients from the course 
followed by the circumstances themselves. As regards 
the pointing things out in everyday experience, this is 
certainly concerned, in the first instance, with individual 
perceptions, observations, and so on, that is to say, with 
the kind of material which is only pointed out, but its 
interest is by so doing to prove further that there are in 
Nature and in Spirit such species and kinds, such laws, 
forces, faculties, and activities as are mentioned in the 
sciences. We pass by the metaphysical or common 
psychological reflections about that subjective element of 



1 68 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

sense, external and internal, which accompanies percep- 
tion. But the material, however, in so far as it enters into 
the sciences, is not so left to itself as it is in the senses 
and in perception. On the contrary, the content of the 
sciences the species, kinds, laws, forces, and so on is 
built up out of that material, which is, perhaps, already 
called by the name of phenomena, by putting together 
through analysis what is common, the leaving aside of 
what is not essential, the retention of what is called essen- 
tial, without any certain test having been applied to dis- 
tinguish between what is to be regarded as non-essential 
and what as essential. It is admitted that what is per- 
ceived does not itself make these abstractions, does not 
compare its individuals (or individual positions, circum- 
stances, and so on), or put what is common in them 
together ; that therefore a great part of the activity of 
knowledge is a subjective affair, just as in the content 
which has been obtained a part of its definitions, as being 
logical forms, are the product of this subjective activity. 
The expression " predicate," or mark (MerJcmal), if people 
will still use this stupid expression, directly indicates a 
subjective purpose of isolating properties for our use in 
marking distinctions, while others, which likewise exist 
in the object, are put aside. This expression is to be 
called stupid, because the definitions of species and kinds 
directly pass for something essential and objective, and 
not as existing merely for us who mark distinctions. 
We may certainly also express ourselves by saying that 
the species leaves aside, in one kind, properties which it 
places in another, or that energy in one form of its 
manifestation leaves aside circumstances which are pre- 
sent in another, that these circumstances are thus shown 
by it to be unessential, and it of itself gives up the form 
of its manifestation, and withdraws itself into inactivity 
or self- con tain edness ; that thus, for example, the law of 
the motion of the heavenly bodies penetrates to every 
single place and every moment in which the heavenly 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 169 

body occupies that place, and just by this continual ab- 
straction shows itself to be a law. If we thus look on 
abstraction as objective activity, which it so far is, it is 
yet very different from subjective activity and its pro- 
ducts. The former leaves the heavenly body to fall back 
again after abstraction from this particular place and this 
particular moment into the particular changing place and 
moment of time, just as the species may appear in the 
kind in other contingent or unessential forms and in the 
external particularity of individuals. On the other hand, 
subjective abstraction raises the law like the species into 
its universality as such, and makes it exist and preserves 
it in this form, in the mind. 

In these forms of the knowledge which progresses 
from mere indication to proof, from immediate objectivity 
to special products, the necessity may be felt of consider- 
ing explicitly the method, the nature, and fashion of the 
subjective activity, in order to test its claims and pro- 
cedure ; for this method has its own characteristics and 
kind of progress which are quite different from the charac- 
teristics and process of the object in itself. And without 
entering more particularly into the nature of this method 
of knowledge, it becomes immediately apparent, from a 
single characteristic which 'we observe in it, that inas- 
much as it is represented as being concerned with the 
object in accordance with subjective forms, it is only 
capable of apprehending relations of the object. It is 
therefore idle to start the question whether these relations 
are objective and real or only subjective and ideal, not to 
mention the fact that such expressions as subjectivity and 
objectivity, reality and ideality, are simply vague abstrac- 
tions. The content, be it objective or merely subjective, 
real or ideal, remains always the same, an aggregate of 
relations, not something that is in- and- for- itself, the 
notion of the thing, or the infinite, with which know- 
ledge must have to do. If that content of knowledge 
is taken by perverted sense as containing relations only, 



170 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and these are understood to be phenomena or relations 
to a faculty of subjective knowledge, it must, so far as 
results are concerned, always be recognised as representing 
the great intellectual advance which modern philosophy 
has achieved, that the mode of thinking, proving, and 
knowing the infinite, which has been described, is proved 
incapable of reaching what is eternal and divine. 

What has been brought out in the preceding exposition 
regarding knowledge in general, and especially what re- 
lates to thinking knowledge (which is what alone concerns 
us), and to proof, the principal moment in that knowledge, 
we have looked at from the point of view from which it 
is seen to be a movement of the activity of thought which 
is outside the object and different from the development 
of the object itself. This definition may in part be taken 
to be sufficient for our purpose, but partly, too, it is to be 
taken as what is essential in opposition to the one-sided- 
ness which lies in the reflections about the subjectivity 
of knowledge. 

In the opposition of the process of knowledge to the 
object to be known lies the finiteness of knowledge. 
But this opposition is not on that account to be regarded 
as itself infinite and absolute, and its products are not 
to be taken to be appearances only because of the mere 
abstraction of subjectivity ; but in so far as they them- 
selves are determined by that opposition, the content 
as such is affected by the externality referred to. This 
point of view has an effect upon the nature of the content, 
and yields a definite insight into it ; while, on the con- 
trary, the other way of looking at the question gives 
us nothing but the abstract category of the subjective, 
which is, moreover, taken to be absolute. What we thus 
get as the result of the way in which we look at the 
proof, for the otherwise quite general quality of the con- 
tent, is, speaking generally, just this, that the content, 
inasmuch as it bears an external relation to knowledge, 
is itself determined as something external, or, to put it 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 171 

more definitely, consists of abstractions from finite pro- 
perties. Mathematical content as such is essentially 
magnitude. Geometrical figures pertain to space, and 
have thus in themselves externality as their principle, 
since they are distinguished from real objects, and re- 
present only the one-sided spatiality of these objects, 
as distinguished from their concrete filling up, through 
which they first became real. So number has the unit 
for its principle, and is the putting together of a multi- 
plicity of units which are independent, and is thus a 
completely external combination. The knowledge which 
we have here before us can only attain its greatest 
perfection in this field, because that field contains only 
simple and definite qualities, and the dependence of these 
upon each other, the insight into the nature of which is 
proof, is thus stable, and ensures for proof the logical 
progress of necessity. This kind of knowledge is capable 
of exhausting the nature of its objects. The logical 
nature of the process of proof is not, however, confined 
to mathematical content, but enters into all departments 
of natural and spiritual material ; but we may sum up 
what is logical in knowledge in connection with proof 
by saying that it depends on the rules of inference ; 
the proofs of the existence of God are therefore essen- 
tially inferences. The express investigation of these 
forms belongs, however, partly to logic, and for the rest 
the nature of the fundamental defect must be ascertained 
in the course of the examination of these proofs which is 
about to be taken in hand. For the present it is enough 
to remark further, in connection with what has been said, 
that the rules of inference have a kind of foundation 
which is of the nature of mathematical calculation. 
The connection of propositions which are requisite to 
constitute a syllogistic conclusion depends on the rela- 
tions of the sphere which each of them occupies as 
regards the other, and which is quite properly regarded 
as greater or smaller. The definite extent of such 



172 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

a sphere is what determines the correctness of the 
subsuraption. The older logicians, such as Lambert and 
Ploucquet, have been at the pains of inventing a nota- 
tion by means of which the relation in inference may 
be reduced to that of identity, that is, to the abstract 
mathematical relation of equality, so that inference is 
shown to be the mechanism of a kind of calculation. 
As regards, however, the further nature of knowledge 
in such an external connection of objects, which in their 
very nature are external in themselves, we shall have to 
speak of it presently under the name of mediate know- 
ledge, and to consider the opposition in its more definite 
form. 

As regards these forms which are called species, laws, 
forces, and so on, knowledge does not stand to them 
in an external relation ; they are rather its products. 
But the knowledge which produces them, as has been 
shown, produces them only by abstraction from what is 
objective ; they have their root in this, but are essentially 
separated from what is actual ; they are more concrete than 
mathematical figures, but their content differs essentially 
from that from which the start was made, and which must 
constitute their only foundation of proof. 

The defective element in this mode of knowledge 
has thus attention drawn to it in a different form from 
that shown in the way of looking at it, which declares the 
products of knowledge to be mere phenomena, because 
knowledge itself is only a subjective activity. But the 
general result, however, is the same, and we have now to 
see what has been set over against this result. What is 
determined as insufficient for the aim of the Spirit, which 
is the absorption into its very nature of what is infinite, 
eternal, divine, is the activity of the Spirit which in 
thinking proceeds by means of abstraction, inference, 
and proof. This view, itself the product of the mode of 
thought characteristic of the period, has jumped straight 
over to the other extreme in giving out a proofless, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 173 

immediate knowledge, an unreasoning faith, a feeling 
devoid of thought, as the only way of grasping and 
having within oneself divine truth. It is asserted that 
that kind of knowledge which is insufficient for the higher 
kind of truth is the exclusive and sole kind of knowledge. 
The two assumptions are most closely connected. On 
the one side, we have, in the investigation of what we 
have undertaken to consider, to free that knowledge from 
its one-sidedness, and in doing so at the same time to 
show hy facts that there exists another kind of know- 
ledge than that which is given out as the only kind. 
On the other side, the pretension which faith as such 
sets up against knowledge is a prejudice which occupies 
too firm and sure a position not to make a stricter inves- 
tigation necessary. In view of this pretension it must 
be borne in mind that the true, unsophisticated faith, 
the more it in case of dire necessity might reasonably 
make pretensions, the less it does make them, and that the 
case of necessity exists only for the merely rationalising, 
dry, and polemical assertion of faith. 

But I have elsewhere already explained how the matter 
stands as regards that faith or immediate knowledge. It 
is not possible that in the forefront of any attempt to 
deal at the present time with the proofs of the existence 
of God, the position taken up by faith can be set aside 
as done with; the chief points from which it is to be 
criticised, and the place to be assigned to it, must at least 
be called to mind. 



THIRD LECTURE 

IT has already been remarked that the assertion of faith, 
of which we have to speak, is found outside of genuine 
simple faith. This latter, in so far as it has advanced 
to conscious knowledge, and has consequently acquired 
a consciousness of knowledge, accedes to knowledge with 
full confidence in it, because it is pre-eminently full of con- 
fidence in itself, is sure of itself, and firmly established in 
itself. We are rather concerned with faith in so far as it 
takes up a polemical attitude towards rational knowledge, 
and expresses itself in a polemical fashion even against 
knowledge in general. It is thus not a faith which opposes 
itself to another kind of faith. Faith (or belief) is what 
is common to both ; it is therefore the content which 
fights against the content. But this fact of having to 
do with content at once brings knowledge with it. If it 
were otherwise, the overthrow and defence of the truth of 
religion would not be carried out with external weapons, 
which are just as foreign to faith and religion as to 
knowledge. The faith which rejects knowledge as such, 
is just because of this devoid of content, and is, to begin 
with, to be taken abstractly as faith in general, as it 
opposes itself to concrete knowledge, to rational know- 
ledge, without reference to content. As thus abstract, 
it is removed back into the simplicity of self-conscious- 
ness. This is in its simplicity, in so far as it has any 
fulness at all, feeling, and what is content in knowledge 
is definiteness of feeling. The assertion of abstract faith 
thus leads immediately to the form of feeling, in which 
the subjectivity of knowledge intrenches itself as in an 
inaccessible place. The standpoints of both must there- 
fore be briefly indicated, from which their one-sidedness, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 175 

and consequently the untruth of the fashion in which they 
are asserted to he ultimate and fundamental determina- 
tions, becomes apparent. Faith, to begin with it, starts 
from this, that the nullity of knowledge, so far as ab- 
solute truth is concerned, has been demonstrated. We 
wish so to proceed as to leave faith in possession of this 
assumption, and to see accordingly what it is in itself. 

To begin with, if the opposition is conceived of as being 
of such an absolutely general kind as that between faith 
and knowledge, as we often hear it put, this abstraction 
must be directly found fault with. For faith belongs to 
consciousness ; we know about what we believe ; nay, we 
know about it with certainty. It is thus at once apparent 
that it is absurd to wish to separate faith and knowledge 
in such a general fashion. 

But faith is now called immediate knowledge, and is 
accordingly to be distinguished radically from mediate 
and mediating knowledge. Since at this stage we leave 
on one side the speculative examination of these concep- 
tions, in order to keep within the proper sphere of this 
kind of assertion, we will oppose to this separation, which 
is asserted to be absolute, the fact that there is no act 
of knowledge, any more than there is any act of sensa- 
tion, conception, or vol.ition, no activity, property, or con- 
dition pertaining to Spirit, which is not mediated and 
mediating ; just as there is no other object in Nature or 
Spirit, be it what it may, in heaven or the earth, or under 
the earth, which does not include within itself the quality 
of mediation as well as that of immediacy. It is thus 
as a universal fact that logical philosophy presents it 
we might add, along with the exhibition of its necessity, 
to which we need not here appeal in the completed 
circle of the forms of thought. As regards the matter of 
sense, whether it belongs to outer or inner perception, it 
is admitted that it is finite, that is, that it exists only as 
mediated through what is other than sense. But of 
this matter itself, and still more of the higher content of 



176 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

Spirit, it will be admitted that it derives its essential 
character from categories, and that the nature of this 
character is shown in logic to be the possession of the 
moment of mediation above indicated inseparably in itself. 
But we pause here to call attention to the absolutely 
universal fact, in whatever sense and with whatever 
meaning the facts may be understood. Without digress- 
ing into examples, we abide by the one object which here 
lies nearest to us. 

God is activity, free activity relating itself to itself, 
and remaining with itself. The essential element in the 
notion or conception of God, or, for that matter, in every 
idea of God, is that He is Himself, the mediation of Him- 
self with Himself. If God is defined merely as the 
Creator, His activity is taken only as going out of itself, 
as expanding itself out of itself, as sensible or material 
producing, without any return into itself. The product is 
something different from Him, it is the world ; the intro- 
duction of the category of mediation would at once bring 
with it the idea that God must be through the medium of 
the world ; one might, at all events, say with truth that 
He is Creator only by means of the world, or what He 
creates. Only this would be mere empty tautology ; for 
the category, " that which is created," is itself directly 
involved in the first category, that of the Creator. On 
the other hand, what is created remains, so far as the 
ordinary idea of it is concerned, as a world outside God, as 
an Other over against Him, so that He exists away beyond 
that world, apart from it, in-and-for-Himself. But in 
Christianity least of all is it true that we have to know God 
only as creation, activity, not as Spirit. The fact rather 
is that to this religion, the explicit consciousness that 
God is Spirit is peculiar, the consciousness that He, even 
as He is in-and-for-Himself, relates Himself, as it were, 
to the Other of Himself (called the Son), to Himself, that 
He is related to Himself in Himself as love, essentially 
as this love is mediation with itself. God is indeed the 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 177 

Creator of the world, and is so sufficiently defined. But 
God is more than this ; He is the true God in that He is 
the mediation of Himself with Himself, and is this love. 

Faith, then, inasmuch as it has God as the object of 
its consciousness, has this mediation for its object ; just 
as faith, as existing in the individual, only exists through 
teaching and training, the teaching and training of men, 
but still more through the teaching and training of the 
Spirit of God, and exists only through this process of 
mediation. But faith, like consciousness in general, this 
relation of the subject to an object, is quite abstract, 
whether God is its object, or whatever thing or content 
may be the object, and so faith or knowledge only exists 
through the medium of an object. Otherwise we have 
empty identity, a faith in or knowledge of nothing. 

But conversely there is to be found here the other fact 
that, in like manner, there can be nothing which is only 
and exclusively the product of mediation. If we examine 
into what we understand by immediacy, it will be seen 
that it must exist in itself without any difference, such 
as that through which mediation is at once posited. It 
is simple reference to self, and is thus in its immediate 
form merely Being. Now all knowledge, mediate and 
immediate, and indeed everything else, at all events is; 
and that it is, is itself the least and most abstract thing that 
one can say of anything. If it is even only subjective, 
as faith or knowledge is, at all events it is, the predi- 
cate of Being belongs to it, just as such Being appertains 
to the object which exists only in faith or knowledge. 
The insight involved in this view is of a very simple kind. 
Yet we may be impatient with philosophy just because 
of this simplicity, in so far as we pass from the fulness 
and warmth which belong to faith, over to such abstrac- 
tions as Being and immediacy. But, in point of fact, this 
is not the fault of philosophy ; on the contrary, it is that 
assertion of faith and immediate knowledge which takes 
its stand on these abstractions. In this fact, that faith is 

VOL. in. M 



i;8 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

not mediate knowledge, there lies the entire value of the 
matter, and the verdict passed upon it. But we come 
also to the content, or rather, we may likewise come only 
to the relation of a content, to knowledge. 

It is further to be remarked that immediacy in know- 
ledge, which is faith, has this further quality, that faith 
knows that in which it believes, not merely generally, 
not merely in the sense of having an idea or knowledge 
from without of it, but knows it with certainty. It is 
in certainty that the nerve of faith lies. And here we 
encounter a further distinction, we further distinguish 
truth from certainty. We know very well that much has 
been known, and is known for certain, which is never- 
theless not true. Men have long enough known it to be 
certain, and millions still know it to be certain, to take 
a trivial example, that the sun goes round the earth. 
And what is more, the Egyptians believed, and knew it 
for certain, that Apis was a great or the greatest god ; 
while the Greeks thought the same regarding Jupiter ; just 
as the Hindus still know for certain that the cow, and other 
inhabitants of India, the Mongols and many races, that 
a man, the Dalai-Lama, is God. That this certainty is 
expressed and asserted is admitted. A man may quite 
well say, I know something for certain, I believe it, it is 
true. But, at the same time, every one else must be 
allowed the right to say the same thing, for every one is 
" I," every one knows, every one knows for certain. But 
this unavoidable admission expresses the truth that this 
knowledge, knowledge for certain, this abstraction, may 
have a content of the most diverse and opposite kind, 
and the proof of the content must lie just in this assur- 
ance of being certain, of faith. But what man will come 
forward and say, Only that which I know and know as 
certain is true ; what I know as certain is true just 
because I know it as certain. Truth stands eternally 
over against mere certainty, and neither certainty, nor 
immediate knowledge, nor faith decides what is truth. 
Christ directed the minds of the Apostles and His friends 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 179 

away from the genuinely immediate visible certainty 
which they derived from His immediate presence, from 
His own sayings and spoken words heard with their ears 
and apprehended through their senses and feelings, away 
from such a faith and such a source of faith to the 
truth, into which they were to be led only in the further 
future and through the Spirit. For the attainment of 
anything more in addition to this highest certainty, derived 
from the source above indicated, there exists nothing ex- 
cept just what is in the content itself. 

Faith, in so far as it is defined to be immediate know- 
ledge, as distinguished from what is mediate, reduces 
itself to the abstract formalism above mentioned. This 
abstraction makes it possible not only to rank as faith 
the sensuous certainty which I have that I possess a body, 
and that there are things outside me, but to deduce or 
prove from it what the nature of faith is. But we should 
do gross injustice to what in the sphere of religion is 
termed faith if we were to see in it only this abstraction. 
Faith must rather be full of substance ; it must be a 
content, and this is to be a true content ; it must be far 
removed from such a content as the sensuous certainty 
that I have a body, that things perceived by the senses 
surround me. It must contain the truth, and quite a 
different truth from that last mentioned, the truth of 
finite things of sense, and derived from quite a different 
source. The tendency above indicated to formal subjec- 
tivity must find faith as such even too objective, for this 
latter has always to do with ideas of things, with a know- 
ledge of them, with a state of conviction regarding some 
content. This extreme form of the subjective, in which 
the definite form of the content and the conception and 
knowledge of it have vanished, is that of feeling. We 
cannot, therefore, avoid speaking of it too ; it is this 
form, moreover, which is asked for in our times, not 
feeling of the simple or naive kind, but as a result of 
culture, derived from grounds or reasons which are the 
same as those already referred to. 



FOURTH LECTURE 

As has been shown in the preceding lecture, the form of 
feeling is closely related to mere faith as such. It is 
the yet more intensive forcing back of self-consciousness 
into itself, the development of the content to mere definite- 
ness of feeling. 

Religion must be felt, must exist in feeling, otherwise 
it is not religion; faith cannot exist without feeling, 
otherwise it is not religion. This must be admitted to 
be true, for feeling is nothing but my subjectivity in its 
simplicity and immediacy myself as this particular 
existent personality. If I have religion ouly as idea, 
faith takes the form of certainty about these ideas; its 
content is before me, it is still an object over against 
me; it is not yet identical with me as simple self; I 
am not so penetrated through and through with it that 
it constitutes my qualitative, determinate character. The 
very inmost unity of the content of faith with me is 
requisite in order that I may have quality or substance, 
its substance. It thus becomes my feeling. As against 
religion Man must hold nothing in reserve for himself, 
for it is the innermost region of truth. Religion must 
therefore possess not only this as yet abstract " I," which 
even as faith is yet knowledge, but the concrete " I " in 
its simple personality, comprehending the whole of it in 
itself. Feeling is this inwardness which is not separated 
in itself. 

Feeling is, however, understood to have the property of 
being something purely individual, lasting for a single 
moment, just as one individual thing in the process of 
alternation with another exists either after that other or 

180 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 181 

alongside of it. But the heart signifies the all-embracing 
unity of the feelings, both in their quantity and also as 
regards their duration in time. The heart is the ground 
or basis which contains in itself and preserves the es- 
sential nature of feelings, independent of the fleeting 
nature of their succession in consciousness. In this 
their unbroken unity 'for the heart expresses the 
simple pulse of the living spirit religion is able to 
penetrate the different kinds of feeling, and to become 
for them the substance which holds, masters, and rules 
them. 

But this brings us at once to the reflection that feeling 
and heart as such are only the one side, definite forms 
of feeling and heart being the other. And, accordingly, 
we must at once go further and say, that just as little is 
religion true, because it exists in our feelings or hearts, 
as because it is believed and known immediately and for 
certain. All religions, even the most false and unworthy, 
exist in our feelings and hearts just as much as those 
that are true. There are feelings which are immoral, 
unjust, and godless, just as much as there are feelings 
which are moral, just, and pious. Out of the heart pro- 
ceed evil thoughts, murder, adultery, backbiting, and so 
forth ; that is to say, the fact that thoughts are not bad, 
but good, does not depend on their being in the heart 
and proceeding out of it. We have to do with the 
definite form which is assumed by the feeling which is 
in the heart. This is a truism so trivial that one hesi- 
tates to give it expression, but it is part of philosophical 
culture to carry the analysis of ideas even to the length 
of questioning and denying what is most simple and 
most commonly received. To that shallow type of 
thought or Enlightenment which is vain of its boldness, 
it appears unmeaning and unseemly to recall trivial 
truths, such, for instance, as that which may be here 
once more brought to mind, the truth that Man is dis- 
tinguished from the brute by the faculty of thought, but 



1 82 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

shares that of feeling with it. If feeling is religious 
feeling, religion is its definite quality. If it is wicked, 
bad feeling, what is bad and wicked is its definite quality. 
It is this determinate quality which forms the content 
for consciousness, what in the words already used is 
called thought. Feeling is bad on account of its bad 
content ; the heart, because of its sinful thoughts. Feel- 
ing is the common form for the most different kinds of 
content. It can on that account just as little serve as 
a justification for any of its determinate qualities, for 
its content, as can immediate certainty. 

Feeling makes itself known as a subjective form, as 
being something in me, while I am the subject of some- 
thing. This form is that which is simple, which remains 
equal to itself, and therefore potentially indeterminate in 
every difference of content the abstraction of my exist- 
ence as a single individual. The determinateness or 
special character of the feeling is, on the contrary, to 
begin with, difference in general, the being unlike some 
other, being manifold. It must therefore be explicitly 
distinguished from the general form whose particular and 
definite quality it is, and be regarded on its own account. 
It has the form of the content which must be regarded 
" on its own merits," and judged on its own account ; on 
this value depends the value of the feeling. This con- 
tent must be true, to begin with, and independently of 
the feeling, just as religion is true on its own account 
it is what is in itself necessary and universal the Thing 
or true fact which develops itself to a kingdom of truths 
and of laws, as well as to a kingdom of their knowledge 
and their final ground, God. 

I shall indicate only in outline the consequences which 
ensue if immediate knowledge and feeling as such are 
elevated into a principle. It is their very concentration 
which carries with it for the content, simplification, ab- 
straction, and iudefiniteness. Thus they both reduce the 
divine content, be it religious as such, or legal and moral, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 183 

to a minimum, to what is most abstract. With this the 
determination of the content becomes arbitrary, for in 
that minimum there exists nothing determinate. This 
is a weighty consequence, from a theoretical as well as 
a practical point of view. Chiefly from a practical, for 
since, for the justification of disposition and action, reasons 
are necessary, the faculty of argument must still be very 
untrained, and very little skilled in its work, if it does not 
know how to assign good reasons for what is arbitrary. 

Another feature in the situation, which the withdrawal 
into immediate knowledge and into feeling brings into 
view, concerns the relation of men to other men, and 
their spiritual fellowship. The objective, the true fact 
or Thing, is what is in-and-for-itself universal, and is 
so, therefore, for all. As what is most universal, it is 
implicitly thought in general ; and thought is the com- 
mon basis. The man who betakes himself to feeling, 
to immediate knowledge, to his own ideas or his own 
thoughts, shuts himself up, as I have already said, in his 
own particularity, and breaks off any fellowship or com- 
munity with others the only way is to leave him alone. 
But this kind of feeling and heart lets us see more closely 
into the nature of feeling and heart. Restricting itself 
in accordance with its first principle to its own feeling, 
the consciousness of a content degrades it to the deter- 
minate form belonging to itself ; it maintains itself 
rigidly as self-consciousness, in which this determinate- 
ness inheres ; the self is for consciousness the object 
which it sets before itself, the substance which has the 
content only as an attribute, as a predicate in it, so that 
it is not the independent element in which the subject 
is sublated, or loses itself. The subject is itself in this 
way a fixed condition, which has been called the life of 
feeling. In the so-called Irony, which is connected with 
it, the " myself " is abstract only in relation to itself ; in 
the distinction of itself from its content it stands as 
pure consciousness of itself, and as separated from it. 



1 84 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

In the life of feeling this subject exists rather in the 
above-mentioned identity with the content, it is definite 
consciousness in it, and remains as this individual " I," 
object and end to itself. As the religious individual " I," 
it is end to itself ; this individual "I" is object and end in 
general ; in the expression, for instance, that I am blessed, 
and in so far as this blessedness is brought about through 
belief in the truth, the " I " is filled with truth and 
penetrated by it. Filled in this way with yearning, it is 
unsatisfied in itself ; but this yearning is the yearning of 
religion ; it is, accordingly, satisfied in having this yearn- 
ing in itself ; in it it has the subjective consciousness of 
itself, and of itself as the religious self. Carried beyond 
itself only in this yearning, it is just in it that it preserves 
itself and the consciousness of being satisfied, and in close 
connection with this the consciousness of its contentment 
with itself. But this inwardness involves at the same 
time the opposite condition which consists in that most 
unhappy sense of division experienced by the pure hearted. 
While I regard myself strictly as this particular and 
abstract " I," and compare my particular impulses, in- 
clinations, and thoughts, with what ought to fill my 
nature, I am able to feel that this contrast is a painful 
contradiction within myself, which becomes permanent, 
owing to the fact that " I," as this particular subjective 
" me," have it as my aim and object to concern myself 
about myself as my individual self. It is just this fixed 
reflection which prevents me from being filled by the sub- 
stantial content, by the Thing or true fact, for in the true 
fact I forget myself; in the very act of becoming absorbed 
in it that reflection upon myself disappears of itself. I 
am characterised as subjective only in that opposition 
to the Thing which remains with me through reflection 
on myself. In thus keeping myself outside of the Thing 
or true fact, and since this Thing constitutes my end, the 
real interest is transferred from the attentive observation 
of the Thing back to myself. I thus go on unceasingly 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 185 

emptying myself, and continue in this condition of empti- 
ness. The hollowness which thus attaches to the highest 
end pursued by the individual, namely, pious effort and 
anxiety about the weli'are of his own soul, has led to the 
most inhuman manifestations of a feeble and spiritless 
reality, ranging from the quiet anxiety of a loving dis- 
position to the suffering caused to the soul by despair 
and madness. This was still more the case in former 
times than in these later days when the sense of satis- 
faction in the yearning has gained the upper hand of the 
sense of division, and has produced in the soul a feeling of 
contentment and even a sense of irony itself. Unreality in 
the heart, such as that referred to, is not only emptiness, 
but is also iiarrow-heartedness. It is its own formal, 
subjective life with which it is filled ; it always has this 
particular "I" as its object and end. It is only the 
truly Universal, the Universal in-and-for-itself, which is 
broad, and the heart inwardly extends only by entering 
into this, and expanding within this substantial element, 
which is at once the religious, the moral, and the legal 
element. Speaking generally, love is the abandonment 
on the part of the heart of limitation to a particular point 
of its own, and its reception of the love of God is the 
reception of that development or unfolding of His Spirit 
which comprehends in itself all true content, and swal- 
lows up in this objectivity whatever is merely peculiar to 
the heart. In this substantial element the subjectivity, 
which is for the heart itself a one-sided form, is given up, 
and this at the same time supplies the impulse to throw 
off the subjectivity. This is the impulse to action in 
general, or, more strictly speaking, it is the impulse to 
take part in the action of the content which is divine 
in-and-for-itself, and is therefore the content which has 
absolute power and authority. It is this, accordingly, 
which constitutes the reality or real existence of the heart, 
and it is indivisibly both that inner reality and also outer 
reality. 



186 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

When we have thus distinguished between what, be- 
cause it is buried in and absorbed into the Thing or true 
object, is the unsophisticated heart, and the heart which 
in reflection is consciously occupied with itself, we find 
that the distinction constitutes the relation in which the 
heart stands to the substantial element. So long as the 
heart remains within itself, and consequently remains 
outside of this element, it is by its own act in an ex- 
ternal and contingent relation to this element. This 
connection, which leads the heart to declare what is just, 
and to lay down the law in accordance with its own feel- 
ing, has been already mentioned. To the objectivity of 
action, that is, to action which originates in the truly 
substantial element, subjectivity opposes feeling, and to 
this substantial element and to the thinking knowledge 
of it it opposes immediate knowledge. Here, however, 
we do not stay to consider the nature of action, but 
simply remark that it is just this substantial element, 
represented by the laws of justice and morality and the 
commandments of God, which is by its very nature the 
true Universal, and has consequently its root and basis 
in the region of thought. If sometimes the laws of jus- 
tice and morality are regarded merely as arbitrary com- 
mands of God which would mean, in fact, that they 
were irrational still it would take us too far to make 
that our starting-point. But the putting on a permanent 
basis and the investigation of the conviction, on the part 
of the conscious subject, of the truth of the principles 
which ought to constitute for him the basis of his action, 
is thinking knowledge. While the unsophisticated heart 
yields itself up to these principles, its insight is as yet so 
undeveloped, and any pretension on its part to indepen- 
dence is so foreign to it, that it reaches them rather by 
the road of authority, and thus this part of the heart in 
which they are implanted is alone the place of conscious 
thought, for they are themselves the thoughts of action, 
and are inherently universal principles. This heart 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 187 

cannot, therefore, offer any opposition to the development 
of what is its own objective basis, any more than it can 
to that of those truths which belong to it, and which at 
first appear in themselves rather as theoretical truths 
pertaining to its religious faith. As, however, this pos- 
session, and the intensity which characterises it, are al- 
ready in the heart only through the mediation of education, 
which has asserted its influence upon its thought and 
knowledge just as it has upon its volition, so, in a still 
greater degree, the further developed content, and the 
alteration in the circle of its ideas which are implicitly 
native to the place where they are found, also represent 
mediating knowledge mediated into the conscious form of 
thought. 



FIFTH LECTURE 

WE may sum up what has gone before as follows. The 
heart ought not to have any dread of knowledge ; the 
determinateness of feeling, the content of the heart, ought 
to have a substantial form. Feeling or the heart must 
be filled by the Thing or true object by what actually 
exists, and consequently be broad and true in character. 
But this Thing, this substantial element, is simply the 
truth of the Divine Spirit, the Universal in-and-for-itself, 
though just because of this it is not the abstract Universal, 
but the Universal in the development which belongs 
essentially to itself. The substantial element is thus 
essentially implicit thought, and exists in thought. But 
thought, what constitutes the really inner nature of faith 
itself, if it is to be known as essential and true in so 
far as faith is no longer something implicit and merely 
natural, but is regarded as having entered into the sphere 
of knowledge with all its requirements and claims must 
at the same time be known as something necessary, and 
must have gained a consciousness of itself and of the 
connected nature of its development. It thus extends 
and proves itself at the same time ; for, speaking gener- 
ally, to prove simply means to become conscious of the 
connection, and consequently of the necessity of things, 
and in relation to our present design it means the recog- 
nition of the particular content in the Universal in-and-for- 
itself, and of how this absolute truth itself is the result, 
and is consequently the final truth of all particular content. 
This connection, which is thus present to consciousness, 
must not be a subjective movement of thought outside 
of reality, but must follow this latter, and must simply 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 189 

unfold its meaning and necessity. Knowledge is just this 
unfolding of the objective movement of the content, of 
the inner necessity which essentially belongs to it, and 
it is true knowledge since it is in unity with the object. 
For us this object must be the elevation of our spirit to 
God, and is thus what we have referred to as the neces- 
sity of absolute truth in the form of that final result into 
which everything returns in the Spirit. 

But because it contains the name of God, the mention 
of this end may easily have the effect of rendering worth- 
less all that was urged against the false ideas of know- 
ledge, cognition, and feeling, and all that was gained in 
the way of a conception of true knowledge. 

It has already been remarked that the question as to 
whether our reason can know God, was made a formal 
one ; that is to say, it was referred to the criticism of 
knowledge, of rational knowledge in general, and con- 
nected with the nature of faith and feeling in such a 
way that what is included under these special heads is 
to be understood apart altogether from any content. 
This is the position taken up by immediate knowledge, 
which itself speaks with the fruit of the tree of know- 
ledge in its mouth, and transfers the problem to the 
formal sphere since it bases the justification of such 
knowledge, and of this exclusively, on the reflections 
which it makes regarding proof and philosophical know- 
ledge, and as a consequence it has to put the true and 
infinite content outside of the range of its reflections, 
because it does not get beyond the idea of finite know- 
ledge and cognition. With this presupposition of a 
knowledge and cognition which are merely finite, we 
contrasted the knowledge which does not remain outside 
of the Thing or true reality, but which, without intro- 
ducing any of its own qualities, simply follows the course 
of true reality, and we have directed attention, to the 
substantial element in feeling and the heart, and have 
shown that, speaking generally, it exists essentially for 



igo THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

consciousness and for conscious thought, in so far as its 
truth has to be worked out in what constitutes its most 
inner nature. But owing to the mention of the name 
of God, this object defined as knowledge in general, as 
well as the study of it, have been forced into an inferior 
position, and connected with that subjective way of 
looking at things for which God is something above. 
Since, in what has gone before, this aspect of the matter 
has received sufficient elucidation, and can be here indi- 
cated merely, rather than examined in detail, the only 
other thing to do would be to explain the relation of God 
in and to knowledge as deduced from the nature of God. 
In connection with this it may be remarked, first of all, 
that our subject, namely, the elevation of the subjective 
spirit to God, directly implies that in this very act of 
elevation the one-sidedness of knowledge, that is, its 
subjectivity, is abolished, and that it is itself essentially 
this process of abolition and absorption. Consequently, 
the knowledge of the other side of the subject, namely, 
the nature of God, and, together with this, His relation 
in and to knowledge, comes in here of itself. But there 
is one drawback connected with what is of an intro- 
ductory and incidental character, and is yet necessary 
here, and it is this, that any thorough treatment of the 
subject renders it superfluous. Still we may so far 
anticipate as to say that there can be no thought here 
of carrying our treatment of the subject to the point 
reached by the explanation so intimately connected with 
it, of the self-consciousness of God, and of the relation 
of His knowledge of Himself to the knowledge of Him- 
self in and through the human spirit. Without referring 
you here to the more abstract and systematic discussions 
on this subject to be found in my other works, I may call 
attention to a very remarkable book which has recently 
appeared, entitled, " Aphorisms on Agnosticism and Abso- 
lute Knowledge in Relation to the Science of Christian 
Faith," by C. Fr. G 1 (Berlin: C. Franklin). It 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 191 

makes reference to my statement of philosophical prin- 
ciples, and contains quite as much thoroughly grounded 
Christian belief as it does speculative and philosophical 
depth. It throws light on all the points of view from 
which the Understanding directs its attack on the Chris- 
tianity of knowledge, and answers the objections and 
counter - arguments which the theory of agnosticism 
(Nichtwissen) has brought against philosophy. It shows 
in particular the misunderstanding and the want of 
understanding of which the pious consciousness is guilty 
when it ranges itself on the side of the explaining 
Understanding in connection with the principle of 
agnosticism, and thus makes common cause with it in 
its opposition to speculative philosophy. What is there 
advanced regarding the self-consciousness of God, His 
knowledge of Himself in men, and Man's knowledge of 
himself in God, has direct reference to the point of view 
just indicated, and it is marked by speculative thorough- 
ness while casting light on the false opinions which have 
been attributed alike to philosophy and to Christianity in 
connection with these subjects. 

But even in connection with the purely general ideas 
to which we here confine ourselves, in order that, taking 
God as the starting-point, we may discuss the relation in 
which He stands to the human spirit, we are met more 
than anywhere else by an assumption which is in con- 
tradiction with any such design namely, that we do not 
know God ; that even in the act of believing in Him we 
do not know what He is, and therefore cannot start from 
Him. To take God as the starting-point would be to 
presuppose that we were able to state, and had stated, 
what God is in Himself as being the primary object. 
That assumption, however, permits us to speak merely of 
our relation to Him, to speak of religion and not of God 
Himself. It does not permit of the establishment of a 
theology, of a doctrine of God, though it certainly does 
allow of a doctrine of religion. 



192 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

If there is not exactly any such doctrine, we at least 
hear much talk an infinite amount of it, or rather, little 
talk with infinite repetitions about religion, and therefore 
all the less about God Himself. This everlasting explana- 
tion of religion, of its necessity, its usefulness, and so on, 
together with the insignificant attempts to explain God, 
or the prohibition even of any attempt at explaining His 
nature, is a peculiar phenomenon of the culture of our 
time. We get off most easily when we rest contented 
with this standpoint, so that we have nothing before us 
but the barren characterisation of a relation in which 
our consciousness stands to God. As thus understood, 
religion means at least that our spirit comes into contact 
with this content, and our consciousness with this object, 
and is not merely, so to speak, a drawing out of the lines 
of longing into empty space, an act of perception which 
perceives nothing and finds nothing actually confronting 
it. Such a relation implies, at all events, this much, that 
we not only stand in a certain connection with God, but 
that God stands also in a certain connection with us. 
This zeal for religion expresses, hypothetically at least, 
something regarding our relation to God, if it does not 
express exclusively what would be the really logical 
outcome of the principle of the impossibility of knowing 
God. A one-sided relation, however, is not a relation at 
all. If, in fact, we are to understand by religion nothing 
more than a relation between ourselves and God, then 
God is left without any independent existence. God 
would, on this theory, exist in religion only, He would 
be something posited, something produced by us. The 
expression that God exists in religion only, an expression 
which is both frequently employed and found fault with, 
has, however, the true and important meaning that it 
belongs to the nature of God in His condition of complete 
and perfect independence that He should exist for the 
spirit of Man, and should communicate Himself to Man. 
The meaning here expressed is totally different from that 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 193 

previously referred to, according to which God is merely 
a postulate, a belief. God is, and gives Himself to men 
by coming into a relation with them. If this word is is 
limited to the expression of the truth that we do indeed 
know or recognise the fact that God is, but do not know 
what He is, and is thus used with a constantly recurring 
reflection on knowledge, then this would imply that no 
substantial qualities can be attributed to Him. Thus we 
should not have to say we know that God is, but could 
merely speak of is ; for the word God introduces an idea, 
and consequently a substantial element, a content with 
definite characteristics, and apart from these God is an 
empty word. If in the language of this agnosticism 
(Nichtwissen) those characteristics to which we must 
still find it possible to refer are limited to express some- 
thing negative and for this the expression the Infinite 
is peculiarly appropriate, whether by it is meant the 
Infinite in general or those so-called attributes extended 
into infinity then all that this gives us is merely in- 
determinate Being, abstraction, a kind of supreme or 
infinite Essence which is expressly our product, the pro- 
duct of abstraction, of thought, and does not get beyond 
being mere Understanding. 

If, however, God is not thought of as existing in sub- 
jective knowledge merely, or in faith, but if it is seriously 
meant that He exists, that He exists for us, and has on 
His part a relation to us, and if we do not get beyond 
this merely formal characteristic, it is all the same implied 
that He communicates Himself to men, and this is to 
admit that God is not jealous. The Greeks of purely 
ancient times attributed jealousy to God when they 
represented Him as putting down all that was generally 
regarded as great and lofty, and as wishing to have and 
actually placing everything on a level. Plato and Aris- 
totle were opposed to the idea of divine jealousy, and 
the Christian religion is still more opposed to it since it 
teaches that God humbled Himself even to taking on the 

VOL. III. N 



194 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

form of a servant amongst men, that He revealed Him- 
self to them ; that, consequently, far from grudging men 
what is high, nay even what is highest, He, on the con- 
trary, along with that very revelation, laid on them the 
command that they should know God, and at the same 
time indicated that this was Man's highest duty. With- 
out appealing to this part of the teaching of Christianity, 
we may take our stand on the fact that God is not 
jealous, and ask, Why should He not communicate Him- 
self to Man ? It is recorded that in Athens there was a 
law according to which any man who had a lighted 
candle and refused to allow another to light his at it, 
was to be punished with death. This kind of commu- 
nication is illustrated even in connection with physical 
light, since it spreads and imparts itself to some other 
thing without itself diminishing or losing anything ; and 
still more is it the nature of Spirit itself to remain in 
entire possession of what belongs to it, while giving 
another a share in what it possesses. We believe in 
God's infinite goodness in Nature, since He gives up those 
natural things which He has called into existence in in- 
finite profusion, to one another, and to Man in particular. 
And is He to bestow on Man what is thus merely ma- 
terial and which is also His, and withhold from him what 
is spiritual, and refuse to Man what alone can give him 
true value ? It is as absurd to give such ideas a place 
in our thoughts as it is absurd to say of the Christian 
religion that by it God has been revealed to Man, 
and to maintain at the same time that what has been 
revealed is that He is not now revealed and has not 
been revealed. 

On God's part there can be no obstacle to a knowledge 
of Him through men. The idea that they are not able to 
know God must be abandoned when it is admitted that 
God has a relation to us, and since our spirit has a rela- 
tion to Him, God exists for us, or, as it has been expressed, 
He communicates Himself and has revealed Himself. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 195 

God reveals Himself, it is said, in Nature; but God cannot 
reveal Himself to Nature, to the stone, to the plant, to 
the animal, because God is Spirit ; He can reveal Him- 
self to Man only, who thinks and is Spirit. If there is 
no hindrance on God's side to the knowledge of Him, 
then it is owing to human caprice, to an affectation of 
humility, or whatever you like to call it, that the finitude 
of knowledge, the human reason is put in contrast to the 
divine knowledge and the divine reason, and that the 
limits of human reason are asserted to be immovable and 
absolutely fixed. For what is here suggested is just that 
God is not jealous, but, on the contrary, has revealed and 
is revealing Himself ; and we have here the more definite 
thought that it is not the so-called human reason with its 
limits which knows God, but the Spirit of God in Man, it 
is, to use the speculative expression previously employed, 
the self-consciousness of God which knows itself in the 
knowledge of Man. 

This may suffice by way of calling attention to the 
main ideas which are floating about in the atmosphere of 
the culture of our time as representing the results of the 
" Enlightenment," and of an understanding which calls 
itself reason. These are the ideas which directly meet 
us, to begin with, when we undertake to deal with the 
general subject of the knowledge of God. It was possible 
only to point out the fundamental moments of the worth- 
lessness of those categories which are opposed to this 
knowledge, and not to justify this knowledge itself. This, 
as being the real knowledge of its object, must receive its 
justification along with the content. 

Note. The rendering of Nichtwissen in this Lecture by "Agnos- 
ticism " involves something of an anachronism, and is not techni- 
cally strictly accurate ; but we have no other English word which 
seems so well to suggest the meaning. E. B. S. 



SIXTH LECTURE 

ALL questions and investigations regarding the formal 
element in knowledge we for the present consider as 
settled or as put on one side. We at the same time 
escape the necessity of putting in a merely negative form 
the exposition of what is known as the metaphysical 
proofs of the existence of God. Criticism which leads to 
a negative result is not merely a sorry business, but, in 
confining itself to the task of showing that a certain con- 
tent is vain, it is itself a vain exercise, an exertion of 
vanity. In defining those proofs as the grasping in 
thought of what we have called the elevation of the soul 
to God, we declared that in criticism we must directly 
reach an affirmative content. 

And so, too, our treatment of the subject is not to be 
historical. Since time will not permit of rue doing 
otherwise, I must partly refer you to histories of philo- 
sophy for the literary portion of the subject, and, indeed, 
the range of the historical element in these proofs may 
be held to be of the greatest possible extent, to be univer- 
sal in fact, since every philosophy has a close connection 
with the primary question or with subjects which are most 
intimately related to it. There have, however, been times 
when this question was treated of in the express form of 
these proofs, and the interest which was felt in refuting 
atheism directed attention to them in a supreme degree 
and secured for them thorough treatment times when the 
insight of thought was considered indispensable even in 
theology in connection with those of its parts which were 
capable of being known in a rational way. Besides, the 

historical element in anything which is a substantial 

196 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 197 

content for itself, can and should have an interest for us 
when we are clear about the thing itself, and that thing 
which we have got to consider here deserves above 
anything else to be taken up for itself, apart from any 
interest which might otherwise attach to it by its being 
connected with material lying outside of it. To occupy 
ourselves too exclusively with the historical element in 
subjects which are in themselves eternal truths for Spirit, 
is a proceeding rather to be disapproved of, for it is only 
too frequently an illusion which deceives us as to what 
is of real interest. Historical study of this kind has the 
appearance of dealing with the Thing or actual reality ; 
while, on the contrary, we are as a matter of fact dealing 
with the ideas and opinions of others, with external cir- 
cumstances, with what, so far as the actual reality is 
concerned, is past, transitory, and vain. We may certainly 
meet with historically learned persons who are what is 
called thoroughly conversant with all the details of what 
has been advanced by celebrated men, Fathers of the 
Church, philosophers, and such like, regarding the funda- 
mental principles of religion, but who, on the other hand, 
are strangers to the true object or Thing itself. If such 
people were to be asked what they considered to be the 
reality and the grounds of their conviction regarding the 
truth they possessed, they would very likely be astonished 
at such a question as something which did not concern 
them here, their real concern being, on the contrary, with 
others, with theories and opinions, and with the knowledge 
not of something actual but of theories and opinions. 

It is the metaphysical proofs which we are considering 
here. I make this further remark inasmuch as it has 
been the custom to deduce a proof of the existence of 
God, ex consensu gentium, a popular category over which 
Cicero long ago waxed eloquent. The knowledge that 
all men have imagined, believed, known this, carries with 
it a tremendous authority. How could any man resist 
it and say, I alone contradict all that all men picture, to 



i&8 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

themselves as true, what many of them have perceived to 
be the truth by means of thought, and what all feel and 
believe to be the truth. If, to start with, we leave out of 
account the force of such a proof, and look at the dry 
substance of it which is supposed to rest on an empirical 
and historical basis, it will be seen to be both uncertain 
and vague. All that about all nations, all men who are 
supposed to believe in God, is on a level with similar 
appeals to all generally ; they are usually made in a very 
thoughtless fashion. A statement, which is necessarily 
an empirical statement, is made regarding all men, and 
which covers all individuals, and consequently all times 
and places ; future ones, too, if strictly taken, for we are 
supposed to be dealing with all men. But it is not 
possible to get historical evidence regarding all nations. 
Such statements regarding all men are in themselves 
absurd, and are to be explained only by the habit people 
have of not treating seriously such meaningless and 
trite ways of speaking. But apart from this, nations, 
or if you choose to call them tribes, have been dis- 
covered, whose dull minds, being limited to the few 
objects connected with their outward needs, had not 
risen to a consciousness of anything higher which might 
be called God. What is supposed to be the historical 
element in the religion of many peoples rests principally 
on uncertain explanations of sensuous expressions, out- 
ward actions, and the like. Of a great many nations, 
even such as are otherwise highly civilised, and with 
whose religion we have a more definite and thorough 
acquaintance, it may be said that what they call God is 
of such a character that we may well hesitate to recognise 
it as God. A dispute of the most bitter kind has been 
carried on between two Roman Catholic monastic orders 
as to whether the names Thian and Chang-ti, which 
occur in the Chinese State-religion, the former meaning 
heaven, and the latter lord, might be used to designate 
the Christian God, that is to say, as to whether these 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 199 

names did not express ideas which are utterly opposed 
to our ideas of God, so opposed that they contain nothing 
in common with ours, not even the common abstract 
idea of God. The Bible makes use of the expression, 
" the heathen who know not God," although these heathen 
were idolaters, i.e., as it is well put, although they had a 
religion. Here, all the same, we draw a distinction be- 
tween God and an idol, and spite of the broad mean- 
ing attached in modern times to the name religion, we 
would perhaps shrink from giving the name God to an 
idol. Are we to call the Apis of the Egyptians, the 
monkey, the cow, &c., of the Hindus and other nations, 
God ? Even if we were to speak of the religion of these 
peoples, and consequently allow that they had something 
more than a superstition, still we might hesitate to 
speak of their having belief in God. Otherwise God 
would be represented by the purely indeterminate idea 
of something higher of an entirely general character, and 
not even of something invisible and above sense. One 
may take up the position that even a bad or false religion 
should still be called a religion, and that it is better that 
the various nations should have a false religion rather 
than none at all, which reminds us of the story of the 
woman who, to the complaint that it was bad weather, 
replied that such weather was at least better than no 
weather at all. Closely connected with this position is 
the thought that the value of religion is to be found only 
in the subjective element, in the fact of having a religion, 
it being a matter of indifference what idea of God is 
contained in it. Thus belief in idols, just because such 
a belief can be included under the abstract idea of God 
in general, is regarded ae sufficient, just as the abstract 
idea of God in general is considered satisfactory. This 
is certainly the reason, too, why such names as idols and 
heathen are regarded as something antiquated, and are 
considered as objectionable because of their invidious 
meaning. As a matter of fact, however, this abstract 



200 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

antithesis of truth and falsehood demands a very different 
solution from that given in the abstract idea of God in 
general, or, what comes to the same thing, in the purely 
subjective view of religion. 

In any case the consensus gentium with regard to be- 
lief in God turns out to be a perfectly vague idea, both 
as regards the element of fact as such expressed in it, 
and also as regards the substantial element composing it. 
But neither is the force of this proof binding in itself, 
even if the historical basis had been of a firmer and more 
definite kind. A proof of this kind does not amount to 
being an individual inner conviction, since it is a matter 
of accident whether or not others agree with it. Con- 
viction, whether in the form of faith or knowledge based on 
thought, certainly takes its start from something outside, 
from instruction, from what is learnt, from authority in 
fact ; still it is essentially an inner act of self-remembrance 
on the part of Spirit. The fact that the individual him- 
self is satisfied is what constitutes Man's formal freedom, 
and is the one moment in presence of which authority of 
every kind entirely falls away ; and the fact that he finds 
satisfaction in the Thing, in the actual reality, is what 
makes real freedom, and is the other factor in presence 
of which, in the very same manner, all authority sinks 
out of sight. They are truly inseparable. Even in the 
case of faith the one absolutely valid method of proof 
referred to in the Scriptures does not consist of miracles, 
credible accounts and the like, but of the witness of the 
Spirit. With regard to other subjects we may yield to 
authority, either from confidence or from fear ; but the 
exercise of the right referred to is at the same time the 
higher duty laid upon us. In connection with the kind 
of conviction implied in religious belief in which the 
innermost nature of Spirit is directly involved, both as 
regards the certainty of itself (conscience) and because 
of its content, the individual, in consequence of this, has 
the absolute right to demand that his own witness and 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 201 

not that of outside minds should be what decides and 
gives confirmation. 

The metaphysical method of proof which we are here 
considering, constitutes the witness of thinking Spirit 
in so far as this latter is thinking Spirit not merely 
potentially, but actually. The object with which it takes 
to do, exists essentially in thought, and even if, as was 
previously remarked, it is taken in the sense of something 
represented in feeling, still the substantial element in it 
belongs to thought, which is its pure self, just as feeling 
is the empirical self, the self which has become specialised 
or separate. In reference to this object an advance was 
made at an early period to the stage of thinking, witness- 
ing, that is, proving, so soon, in fact, as thought emerged 
from its condition of absorption in sensuous and material 
conceptions and ideas of the sky, the sun, the stars, the 
sea, and so on, and disengaged itself, so to speak, from 
its wrapping of pictures of the imagination which were 
still permeated by the sensuous element so that Man 
came to be conscious of God as essentially objectivity 
which was to be thought of, and which had been reached 
by thought. So, too, the subjective action of Spirit by a 
process of recollection brought itself back from feeling, 
picture-thought, and imagination, to its essence, namely, 
thought, and sought to have before it what belongs 
peculiarly to this sphere, and to have it in its pure form 
as it exists in this sphere. The elevation of the soul 
to God in feeling, intuition, imagination, and thought 
and as being subjective it is so concrete that it has in it 
something of all these elements is an inner experience. 
In regard to it we have likewise an inner experience of 
the fact that accidental and arbitrary elements enter into 
it. Consequently there arises on external grounds the 
necessity for analysing that elevation, and for bringing 
into clear consciousness the acts and characteristic 
qualities contained in it, in order that it may be purified 
from other contingent elements, and from the contingency 



202 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

which attaches to thought itself ; and in accordance with 
the old belief that what is substantial and true can be 
reached only by reflection, we effect the purification of 
this act of elevation whereby it attains to substantiality 
and necessity, by explaining it in terms of thought, and 
give thought the satisfaction of realising that the absolute 
right possessed by it has a right to satisfaction totally 
different from that belonging to feeling and sense-percep- 
tion or ordinary conception. 



SEVENTH LECTURE 

THE necessity we feel of understanding the elevation of 
the spirit to God from the point of view of thought, is 
suggested by a formal characteristic which meets us at 
the very first glance when we consider what direction is 
taken by the proof of the existence of God, and which 
has to be taken notice of first of all. The study of a 
subject from the point of view of thought is an exposition, 
a differentiation of what in our very first experience we 
arrive at by a single stroke. In connection with the 
belief that God is, this analysis comes into direct contact 
with a point which has already been incidentally touched 
upon, and is to be dealt with more thoroughly here, 
namely, the question as to the distinction to be drawn 
between what God is and the fact that He is. God is ; 
what then does this mean ? what is it supposed to be ? 
God is, to begin with, a figurative idea, a name. So far 
as the two determinations contained in the proposition, 
namely, God and Being, are concerned, the most important 
thing is to determine or define the subject for itself, all 
the more that here the predicate of the proposition which 
would otherwise be indicated by the peculiar determina- 
tion of the subject, namely, what this subject is, contains 
merely dry Being. But then God is for us more than 
mere Being. And, conversely, just because He is an in- 
finitely richer content than mere Being, and is infinitely 
different from it, the important thing is to add to it this 
determination as representing a determination which is 
different from that of Being. This content which is thus 
distinguished from Being is an idea, a thought, a concep- 
tion which is to be explained for itself, and have its 



204 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

meaning determined afterwards. Thus in the Metaphysic 
of God, or what is known as natural theology, we start 
by unfolding the meaning of the notion or conception of 
God. This is in accordance with the ordinary mode 
of dealing with the subject, since we consider what our 
previously formed idea of God contains, and in so doing 
further presuppose that we all have this idea which we 
express by the term God. The notion, accordingly, for 
itself, and apart altogether from the question of its reality, 
brings with it the demand that it should be true in itself 
as well, and consequently, as being the notion, that it 
should be logically true. Since logical truth, in so far 
as thought takes the form of Understanding merely, is 
reduced to identity, to what does not contradict itself, 
nothing more is demanded than that the notion should 
not contradict itself, or, as it is otherwise expressed, that 
it be possible, since possibility is itself nothing more than 
the identity of an idea with itself. The second thing, 
accordingly, is to show that this notion exists, and this 
is the proof of the existence of God. But because that 
possible notion is, in this very matter of identity, of bare 
possibility, reduced to this the most abstract of categories, 
and becomes no richer by means of existence, the product 
thus reached does not answer to the fulness of the idea 
of God, and we have accordingly a third division of the 
subject, in which we treat still further of the attributes 
of God and of His relations to the world. 

These are the distinctions which meet us when we 
begin to examine the proofs of the existence of God. It 
is the work of the Understanding to analyse what is con- 
crete, to distinguish and to define the elements belonging 
to it, then to hold firmly to them and abide by them. If 
at a later stage it once more frees them from their isola- 
tion, and recognises that it is their union which constitutes 
the truth, still they are from this standpoint to be regarded 
as being true before their union as well, and consequently 
when outside of this condition of unity. It is accordingly 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 205 

the interest of the Understanding to show that Being 
essentially belongs to the notion or conception of God, 
and that this notion must necessarily be thought of as 
being or existing. If this is the case, then the notion 
must not be thought of as separate from Being ; it has no 
real truth apart from Being. The result thus reached is 
opposed to the idea that the notion should be regarded as 
true in itself, and as something the existence of which 
must be assumed, to begin with, and then established. If 
the Understanding here declares that this first separation 
made by it and what arises from the separation have no 
truth, then the comparison, the other separation which 
further arises in connection with this, is proved to be with- 
out any foundation. The notion, that is to say, is to 
be first considered, and then afterwards the attributes of 
God are to be dealt with. It is the notion or conception 
of God which constitutes the content of Being ; it can be, 
and ought also to be, nothing else than the " substance of 
its realities." But how then should the attributes of God 
be anything but realities and His realities. If the attri- 
butes of God are supposed to express rather His relations 
to the world, the mode of His action in and towards an 
Other different from Himself, then the idea of God involves 
this much at least, that God's absolute independence does 
not permit Him to come out of Himself, and shows us 
what happens to be the condition of the world, which is 
supposed to be outside of Him and to be contrasted with 
Him, and which we have no right to suppose is already 
separate from Him. Thus His attributes, His action and 
mode of existence, remain shut up within His notion, find 
their determination in it alone, and are essentially nothing 
more than its relation to itself ; the attributes are merely 
the determinations of the notion itself. But, again, if we 
start from the world looked at in itself as something which 
is external so far as God is concerned, so that the attri- 
butes of God describe His relations to it, then the world, 
as a product of His creative power, gets a definite character 



206 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

only through His notion, in which again, consequently, 
we find, after having followed this unnecessary and round- 
about road through the world to God, that the attributes 
get their definite character, while the notion, if it is not 
to be something empty, but, on the contrary, is to be some- 
thing full of content, is made explicit only through them. 
It results from this that the differences which we have 
met with are so formal that they cannot be taken as the 
basis of any substantial element, or of any particular 
spheres of existence which, if regarded apart from each 
other, could be considered as representing something true. 
The elevation of the spirit to God is found in one thing, 
in the determination of His notion, of His attributes, and 
of His Being ; or God as notion or idea is the absolutely 
Indeterminate, and it is only when there is a transition, 
namely, to Being and this is the transition in its very 
first and most abstract form that the notion and the idea 
enter on the stage of determinateness. This determinate- 
ness, to be sure, is poor enough, but the reason of this just 
is that the Metaphysic referred to begins with possibility, 
a possibility which, although it is meant to be that of the 
notion of God, comes to be the mere possibility of the 
Understanding, which is devoid of all content, simple 
identity. Thus we find that in reality we are dealing 
merely with the final abstractions of thought in general 
and Being, and with their opposition as well as with their 
inseparableness, such as we have seen these to be. Since 
we have pointed out the nullity of the differences with 
which the metaphysical principle in question starts, we 
have to remember that only one result follows so far as the 
process involved in them is concerned, this, namely, that 
along with the differences we give up the process. One of 
the proofs which we have to consider will have for its con- 
tent the very contrast of thought and Being, which we 
already see making its appearance here, and which will 
therefore be examined in its proper place in accordance 
with the value which it itself possesses. Here, however, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 207 

we might give promineDce to the affirmative element which 
it contains for the knowledge of the at first absolutely 
general and formal nature of the notion. "We must pay 
attention to this so far as it has reference to the speculative 
basis and connection of our treatment of the subject in 
general. This is an aspect of the question which we 
merely indicate, whereas in itself it can indeed be .nothing 
else but the truly leading one ; but it is not our intention 
to follow it out in our treatment of the subject, or to 
confine ourselves to it alone. 

It may therefore be remarked by way of preliminary, that 
what was previously called the notion or conception of God 
for itself and its possibility, is now to be called thought 
simply, and indeed abstract thought. A distinction was 
drawn between the notion of God and the possible existence 
of God. It was only such a notion which was in harmony 
with possibility, with abstract identity; and so, too, of what 
was intended to be taken not as the Notion in general but as 
a particular notion, in fact as the notion of God, nothing re- 
mained but simply this very abstract characterless identity. 

It is already implied iu what has been said that we 
cannot take any such abstract determination of the Under- 
standing as applicable to the Notion, but rather that we 
must simply regard it as concrete in itself, as a unity 
which is not indeterminate but essentially determinate, 
and thus only as a unity of determinations ; and this unity 
itself, which is thus joined on to its determinations, is 
therefore nothing but the unity of itself and its determina- 
tions, so that apart from the determinations the unity is 
nothing and disappears, or, more strictly speaking, it is 
even degraded to the condition of what is merely an un- 
true determinateness, and requires to get into relation in 
order to be true and real. To what has just been said, 
we may further add that such a unity of determinations 
and it is they which constitute the content is there- 
fore not to be taken as a subject to which they are 
attached as representing several predicates which would 



203 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

have their bond of union only in it as in a third thing, 
but would be in themselves outside of this unity and 
mutually opposed. On the contrary, their unity is to be 
regarded as belonging essentially to them, that is to say, 
as a unity which is constituted solely by the determina- 
tions themselves, and, conversely, the separate determina- 
tions as such are to be considered as in themselves 
inseparable from each other, and able to pass over into 
each other, and as having no meaning taken by them- 
selves apart from one another, so that as they constitute 
the unity this latter is their soul and substance. 

It is this which constitutes the concrete element of 
the Notion in general. We cannot engage in philoso- 
phical speculation regarding any object whatever without 
employing universal and abstract categories of thought, 
least of all when God, the profoundest subject of thought, 
the absolute Notion, is the object, so that it was not 
possible to avoid pointing out what the speculative 
notion or conception of the Notion itself is. Here it 
will be possible to develop this notion only in the way 
of an historical sketch ; that its content is true in-and-for- 
itself is shown in the logical part of philosophy. Some 
examples might make it plainer for ordinary thought, and 
not to go too far and Spirit, certainly, is always what 
is nearest it is sufficient to think of the life-force 
which is the unity, the simple unit of the soul, and 
which is at the same time so concrete in itself that it 
appears only in the form of the process of its viscera, of 
its members and organs, which are essentially different 
from it and from each other, and which, yet, when sepa- 
rated from it, perish, and cease to be what they are, 
namely, life, that is, they no longer have the meaning 
and signification which belong to them. 

We have still to trace in detail the result of the notion 
or conception of the speculative Notion in the same 
fashion in which we have dealt with the conception 
itself. That is to say, since the characteristics of the 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 209 

Notion exist only in its unity, and are therefore insepa- 
rable and in conformity with the character of our object 
we shall call it the Notion of God each of these char- 
acteristics themselves, in so far as it is taken in itself, 
and as distinct from any other, must be regarded not as 
an abstract characteristic, but as a concrete notion or 
conception of God. But God is at the same time one 
only, and accordingly no other relation exists between 
these notions except the relation which was previously 
declared to exist among them as characteristics ; that is 
to say, they are to be regarded as moments of one and 
the same notion, as being necessarily related to each 
other, as mutually mediating each other, as inseparable, 
so that they exist only in virtue of their relationship to 
each other, and this relation is the living unity which 
comes into existence through them, and is regarded as 
their hypothetical basis. It is with a view to their thus 
appearing in different forms that they are implicitly 
the same notion, only posited differently, and that, in 
fact, this different way in which they are posited, or 
different mode of appearance, is in necessary connection 
with the other, so that tVie one comes out of the other, 
and is posited by means of it. 

The difference between the Notion in this form and 
the Notion as such consists, accordingly, merely in this, 
that the latter has in it abstract determinations represent- 
ing the aspects it presents, while the Notion in its more 
determinate form, the Idea namely, has itself concrete 
aspects within itself for which those universal determina- 
tions merely supply a basis. These concrete aspects or 
sides are, or rather seem to be, a complete whole existing 
for itself. When it is conceived of as differentiated in 
them, within the sphere which constitutes their specific 
determinateness, and likewise in itself, then we get the 
further determination of the Notion, a- multiplicity not 
only of determinations, but a wealth of definite forms 
which are accordingly purely ideal, and are posited and 

VOL. in. o 



2TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

contained in the one Notion, in the one subject. And 
the unity of the subject with itself becomes the more 
intensive the greater the number of differences developed 
in it. The further continuous determination or specifica- 
tion which takes place is at the same time a going into 
itself on the part of the subject, a going down into or 
absorption of itself in itself. 

When we say that it is one and the same Notion 
which is merely further determined, we are employing 
a, formal expression. Any further and continued deter- 
mination of what is one and the same adds several de- 
terminations to what is thus further defined. This 
richness in increased determination or specification must 
not, however, be thought of simply as a multiplicity of 
determinations, but rather as concrete. These concrete 
aspects regarded in themselves even take on the form of a 
complete self-existing whole. But when posited in one 
notion, in one subject, they are not independent and 
separate from one another in it, but rather exist ideally, 
and the unity of the subject accordingly becomes all the 
more intensive. The greatest intensity of the subject in 
the ideality of all concrete determinations, of the most 
complete antitheses, is Spirit. By way of giving a 
clearer conception of this, we shall refer to the relation 
of Nature and Spirit. Nature is contained in Spirit, is 
created by it, and spite of its apparently immediate Being, 
of its apparently independent reality, it is in itself some- 
thing merely posited or dependent, something created, 
-something having an ideal existence in Spirit. When in 
the course of knowledge we advance from Nature to 
Spirit, and Nature is defined as simply a moment of 
Spirit, we do not reach a true multiplicity, a substantial 
two, the one of which would be Nature, and the other 
Spirit; but, on the contrary, the Idea which is the 
substance of Nature, having taken on the deeper form of 
Spirit, retains in itself that content in this infinite in- 
tensity of ideality, and is all the richer because of the 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 21 1 

determination of this ideality itself, which is in-and-for- 
itself, self-conscious, or Spirit. In connection with this 
mention of Nature regarded in reference to the several 
characteristics which we have to treat of in the course of 
our investigation, we may mention, by way of preface, 
that it does indeed appear in this shape as the totality 
of external existence, but at the same time as one of 
those characteristics above which we are to raise ourselves. 
Here we do not go on either to consider that specula- 
tive ideality, nor to a study of the concrete shape in 
which the thought-determination in which it has its root, 
appears as Nature. The peculiar feature of the stage it 
occupies certainly forms one of the characteristics of God, 
a subordinate moment in the same notion. Since in 
what follows we mean to confine ourselves to its develop- 
ment, and to how the differences continue to be thoughts 
as such, moments of the Notion, the stage referred to 
will be regarded not as Nature but as necessity, and life 
as a moment in the notion or conception of God, which, 
however, may further be conceived of as Spirit, and pos- 
sessed of the deeper quality of ifreedom, in order that it 
may be a notion or conception of God which would be 
worthy of Him and also of us. 

What has just been said regarding the concrete form 
of a moment of the notion reminds us of a peculiar 
aspect of the matter, according to which the characteristics 
or determinations increase in the course of their develop- 
ment. The relation of the characteristics of God to one 
another is a difficult subject in itself, and is all the more 
difficult for those who are not acquainted with the nature 
of the Notion. But without some acquaintance at least 
with the notion of the Notion, or, at all events, without 
having some idea of it, it is not possible to understand 
anything about the Essence of God as representing Spirit 
in general. What has been said, however, will get its 
direct application in that part of our treatment of the 
subject which immediately follows. 



EIGHTH LECTURE 

IN the preceding lecture the speculative fundamental 
characteristics connected with the nature of the Notion, 
and its development into the manifoldness of specific 
qualities and definite forms, have been indicated. If we 
look once more at the special problem we are dealing 
with, we find that there, too, we are at once met by a 
multiplicity. We find that there are several proofs of 
the existence of God. There is an external empirical 
multiplicity or difference, which presents itself, first of 
all, as something which has had an historical origin, and 
which has nothing to do with the differences which follow 
from the development of the Notion, and which we take, 
accordingly, in the form in which we directly come upon 
it. We may, however, have a feeling of distrust in re- 
ference to that multiplicity if we happen to reflect that 
here we have not to do with a finite object, and remember 
that our study of an infinite object must be philosophical, 
and that we are not to deal with it and expend labour 
upon it in a haphazard and external fashion. An his- 
torical fact, nay even a mathematical figure, contains a 
number of references within it, and relations to what is 
outside of it, in accordance with which a conception is 
formed of it, and from which we reason syllogistically to 
the principal relation upon which they themselves depend, 
or to another specific quality which is of importance here 
and which is closely connected with them. It is said 
that some twenty proofs of the Pythagorean problem 
have been discovered. The more important an historical 
fact is, the more points of connection it presents with the 
circumstances of the time and with other historical events, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 213 

so that in showing the necessity for accepting the fact 
as true we may start from any one of these points. The 
direct testimonies may also be very many in number, and 
each testimony in so far as it is not otherwise self-con- 
tradictory has in this sphere the force of a proof. If in 
the case of a mathematical proposition one single example 
is held to be sufficient, it is principally in connection 
with historical subjects and juridical cases that a multi- 
plicity of proofs must be held to strengthen the force of 
the proof itself. In the region of experience or pheno- 
mena, the object, as being an empirical and individual 
thing, has the quality of contingency, and thus the parti- 
cularity of the knowledge we have of it gives the object 
the same mere appearance of Being. It is its connection 
with other facts which gives the object its necessary 
character, and each of these again belongs in itself to 
this contingent sphere. Here it is the extension and 
repetition of such connection which gives to objectivity 
the kind of universality which is possible in this region. 
The verification of a fact or a perception by means of the 
mere number of the observations taken, relieves the sub- 
jectivity of perception from the reproach of being an 
illusion, a deception, or any one of those forms of error 
which it may -by way of objection be declared to be. 

In dealing with God since we presuppose the existence 
of an absolutely general idea of Him, it is found, on the 
one hand, that He infinitely transcends that region in 
which all objects whatsoever stand in a connected rela- 
tion with one another ; and that, on the other hand, since 
God exists only for the inner element of Man's nature in 
general, we directly meet in this sphere with the con- 
tingency of thought, conception, and imagination, in the 
most varied forms and with what is expressly allowed 
to be contingency, namely, that of sensations, emotions, 
and such like. We thus get an infinite number of 
starting-points from which it is possible to advance to 
God, and from which we must necessarily advance, and 



214 THE PHILOSOPHY -OF RELIGION 

hence the infinite number of such essential transitions 
which must have the force of proofs. So, too, the veri- 
fication and confirmation of conviction by means of the 
repetition of the experiences gained of the way to truth, 
must appear to be necessary in order to counteract the 
infinite possibility of deception and error which, on the 
other hand, lurks in the way to truth. The individual's 
trust and the intensity of his belief in God are strength- 
ened by the repetition of the essential elevation of his 
spirit to God, and by the experience and knowledge he 
gains of God's wisdom and providence as shown in 
countless objects, events, arid occurrences. In proportion 
to the inexhaustible number of the relations in which 
things stand to the one object is the inexhaustible need 
felt by Man as he enters more and more deeply into the 
infinitely manifold finitude of his outward surroundings 
and his inner states, to continuously repeat his experience 
of God, that is, to bring before his eyes by new proofs 
the fact of God's working in the world. 

When we are in presence of this species of proof we 
at once feel that it belongs to a different sphere from that 
of the scientific proof. The empirical life of the indi- 
vidual, composed as it is of the most varied changes of 
mood and of conditions of feeling consequent on its 
entrance into different external states, takes occasion both 
from these states and when it is in them to multiply 
the result it has arrived at that there is a God, and seeks 
more and more anew to make this belief its own, and 
to make it a living belief for itself as being an individual 
existence subject to change. The scientific field, how- 
ever, is the sphere of thought. Here the " many times " 
of the repetition, and the " at all times " which really 
represents the result, are united together in what is "once." 
We have to deal with the one thought-determination, 
which, being one, comprises in itself all those special forms 
of the empirical life split up as it is into the infinite 
particularities of existence. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 215 

But these different spheres are different only as regards 
form ; the matter of them is the same. Thought only 
brings the manifold content into a simple shape. It 
epitomises it without depriving it of its value or of any- 
thing that is essential to it. Its peculiar work rather is 
to bring this essential element into prominence. But 
here, too, we get various different determinations. First 
of all, the thought-determination is seen to be related 
to the starting-point from which Spirit rises from the 
finite up to God. Even if it reduces the innumerable 
characteristics to a few categories, these categories are 
still several in number. The finite, which has been called 
in a general way the starting-point, has various charac- 
teristics, and these consequently are the source of the 
different metaphysical proofs of the existence of God, 
that is to say, the proofs belonging to the sphere of 
thought only. In accordance with the historical form 
of the proofs, as we have to deal with them, the cate- 
gories of the finite in which the starting-points get their 
definite character are, first, the contingency of earthly 
things, and next, the- teleological relation which they have 
in themselves and to one another. But besides this 
finite beginning, finite so far as the content is concerned, 
there is yet another starting-point, namely, the Notion 
of God, which so far as its content is concerned is infinite 
and something that ought to be, and the only finite 
element in which is that it can be something "subjective, 
an element of which it has to be divested. We may 
without prejudice admit a variety of starting-points. 
This does not in itself in any way conflict with the 
demand which we considered ourselves justified in making 
that the true proof should be one only ; in so far as this 
proof is known by thought to represent the inner element 
of thought, thought can also show that it represents 
one and the same path, although starting from different 
points. Similarly the result is one and the same, namely, 
the Being of God. This, however, is a kind of indeter- 



2l6 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

inmate Universal. A difference, however, emerges here 
to which we must give somewhat closer attention. It 
is intimately connected with what we have called the 
beginnings or starting-points. These differ according to 
their starting-points, each of which has a definite content ; 
they are definite categories ; the act whereby the spirit 
rises from them to God is in itself the necessary course 
of thought, which, in accordance with an expression 
commonly used, is called a syllogistic argument. This 
has necessarily a result, arid this result is defined in 
accordance with the definite character which attaches to 
the starting-point, for it follows only from this. Thus 
it conies about that the different proofs of the existence 
of God result in giving different characteristics or aspects 
of God. This is opposed to what is considered most 
probable, and to the opinion that in the proofs of the 
existence of God the interest centres in the fact of 
existence only, and that this one abstract characteristic 
or determination ought to represent the common result 
of all the different proofs. The attempt to get out of 
them determinations of the content is rendered unneces- 
sary by the fact that the whole content is found ready 
to hand in the ordinary idea of God, and this idea thus 
presupposed, whether in a more definite or in a vaguer 
form, or in accordance with the ordinary procedure of 
Metaphysics above referred to, is definitely laid down 
beforehand, and made to represent the so-called Notion 
of God. The reflection that the characteristics of the 
content result from the transitions which take place in 
the course of reasoning, is not expressly made here, and 
least of all in connection with the proof which descends 
to the particular after having started from what had 
been previously determined, namely, the notion or con- 
ception of God, and which is expressly intended merely 
to satisfy the demand that the abstract characteristic of 
Being should be attached to that conception. 

But it is self-evident that the different premises, and 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 217 

the variety of syllogisms which are constructed by means 
of these, will also yield several results differing in content. 
If, accordingly, the starting-points seem to permit us to 
take the fact of their being distinct from one another as 
implying a relation of equality or indifference between 
them, this indifference is of a limited character in view 
of the results which a multiplicity of characteristics of 
the conception of God yields ; and indeed the primary 
question regarding their mutual relations crops up of itself 
in this connection, since God is one. The relation most 
readily thought of here is that according to which God is 
defined as being in His several characteristics one subject 
consisting of several predicates, as, for instance, when we 
are in the habit of speaking not only of finite objects 
which are described by a variety of predicates, but also 
when we attribute to God a variety of attributes, and 
speak of Him as being all-powerful, all-wise, as righteous- 
ness, goodness, and so forth. The Orientals speak of God 
as the many-named, or rather as the infinite-all-named, 
and imagine that the demand to declare what He is can 
be exhausted only by the inexhaustible statement of His 
names, that is, of His characteristics or specific qualities. 
We have already said of the infinite number of starting- 
points that they are comprised by means of thought in 
simple categories, and so here the necessity is still greater 
for reducing the multiplicity of attributes to a smaller 
number, or rather to one notion, all the more that God is 
one notion which has in it several inseparable notions ; 
and while we allow with regard to finite objects that each 
in itself is certainly only one subject, an individual, that 
is, something indivisible, a notion or conception, we still 
regard this unity as being in itself manifold, made up of 
many things external to one another and separable, a 
unity which is in conflict with itself by the very fact of 
its existence. The finitude of living beings consists in 
this, that in them body and soul are separable, and, still 
more, that the members, nerves, muscles, and so on, the 



21 8 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

colouring matter, oil, sweat, &c., &c., are also separable ; in 
fact, that what we regard as predicates existing in an actual 
subject or individual, such as colour, smell, taste, and so 
on, can separate from each other as independent materials, 
and that it belongs to the very nature of the unity that 
it should thus break up into parts. Spirit reveals its 
finitude in its variety, and in general in the want of 
correspondence between its Being and its notion. It 
becomes manifest that the intelligence does not ade- 
quately correspond to the truth, the will to the Good, 
the Moral, and the Eight, the imagination to the under- 
standing, and both these to the reason, and so on, and, 
besides, that the sense -consciousness with which the 
whole of existence is always kept supplied, or at any 
rate nearly so, consists of a quantity of momentary, tran- 
sitory, and so far untrue elements. This very thorough 
separability and separateness of the activities, tendencies, 
aims, and actions of Spirit, which we meet with in em- 
pirical reality, may in some degree serve as an excuse for 
conceiving of the Idea of Spirit as something which breaks 
up into faculties, capacities, activities, and the like ; for 
it is as an individual form of existence, a definite single 
being, that it is this particular finite existence which is 
thus found in a separate form of existence external to 
itself. But it is God only who is this particular One, 
and only as He is this One is He God ; thus subjec- 
tive reality is inseparable from the Idea, and conse- 
quently cannot be separated in itself. It is here that 
we see the variety, the separation, the multiplicity of the 
predicates which are knit into a unity by the subject 
only, but which in themselves would be in a condition 
of difference which would result in their coming into 
opposition and consequently into antagonism with each 
other, and which would show in the most decided way 
that they were something untrue, and that multiplicity of 
characteristics was an unsuitable category. 

The next shape taken by the reduction of the several 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 219 

characteristics of God resulting from the several proofs, 
to the one notion or conception which is to be conceived 
of as being one in itself, is the ordinary one, according to 
which they are to be carried back to a higher unity, as it 
is called, i.e., a more abstract unity, and, since the unity 
of God is the highest of all, to what is consequently the 
most abstract form of unity. The most abstract unity, 
however, is unity itself, and from this it would result 
that the Idea of God means simply that God is unity 
and to express this in terms implying a subject, or at least 
something which has Being that He is the One in fact, 
a description, however, which implies that He is One only 
as against many, so that the One in Himself might still 
also be a predicate of the many, and therefore be unity in 
Himself, the One Substance rather, or, if you like, Being. 
But such an abstract form of determination would simply 
bring us back to this, that what would result from the 
proof of the existence of God would be simply the Being 
of God in an abstract sense, or, what comes to the same 
thing, that God Himself would simply be the abstract One 
(neuter) or Being, the empty Essence of the Understand- 
ing, over against which would be placed the concrete idea 
of God, which cannot find satisfaction in any such abstract 
characterisation. But not only is the ordinary idea not 
satisfied with this abstraction, the Notion looked at in its 
general aspect is by its very nature concrete itself, and 
what appears outwardly as difference and multiplicity of 
characteristics is simply the development of its moments, 
which all the while remains within itself. It is therefore 
the inner necessity of reason which shows itself active in 
thinking Spirit, and produces in it this multiplicity of 
characteristics ; only, since this thought has not yet got 
a grasp of the nature of the Notion itself, nor conse- 
quently of the nature of its relation and the necessity 
of the connection, what are virtually stages in develop- 
ment appear to be simply an accidental multiplicity, the 
various elements of which follow on one another and are 



220 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

outside of one another, just as this thought also, moving 
within the circle occupied by each one of these character- 
istics, so conceives of the nature of the transition which 
is called Proof, that the characteristics, while connected 
with each other, still remain outside of each other, and 
mediate with each other merely as independent. It does 
not recognise that mediation with self is the true and final 
relation in any such process. And it will become evident 
that this is the formal defect in these proofs. 



NINTH LECTUEE 

IF we look at the difference which exists between the proofs 
of the existence of God with which we are dealing, as it 
actually presents itself, we come upon a distinction which 
is of an essential kind. One set of the proofs goes from 
the Being to the thought of God, that is, to put it more 
definitely, from determinate Being to true Being as repre- 
senting the Being of God ; the other set proceeds from the 
thought of God, from truth in itself, to the Being of this 
truth. This distinction, although it is brought forward as 
one which merely happens to exist in this form, and is of 
a contingent character, is based on a necessary principle 
which requires to be taken notice of. We have before us 
two characteristics the thought of God and the Being of 
<3od. We may start from the one or from the other in- 
differently in following out the course of reasoning which 
is supposed to result in their union. Where it is thus 
a question merely of possible choice, it appears to be a 
matter of indifference from which we start ; and further, 
too, if the one leads to their being brought into connection, 
the other appears to be superfluous. 

But what thus at first appears to be an indifferent 
duality and an external possibility has a connection in 
the Notion, so that neither are the two ways of arriving 
at the truth indifferent to one another, nor is the difference 
between them merely of an external character, nor is one 
of them superfluous. This necessity is not of the nature 
of an accessory circumstance. It is closely connected with 
the deepest part of our subject, and chiefly with the logical 
nature of the Notion. So far as the Notion is concerned, 
the two paths are not merely different in a general way, 



222 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

but are one-sided, both in reference to the subjective eleva- 
tion of the spirit to God, and also in reference to the nature 
of God Himself. We wish to exhibit this one-sidedness in 
its more concrete form in reference to our subject. We 
have before us, to begin with, merely the abstract categories 
of Being and Notion, the contrast between them and their 
mode of relationship. It will be shown at the same time 
how these abstractions and their relations to one another 
constitute and determine the basis of what is most concrete. 

That I may be able to put this thought in a more 
definite form, I may, by way of anticipation, refer to a 
further distinction, according to which there are three 
fundamental modes in which the connection of the two 
sides or characteristics appears. The first represents the 
passing over of the one characteristic into its Other ; the 
second, their relativity, or the appearance of the one im- 
plicitly or actually in the Being of the Other ; the third 
mode, again, is that of the Notion or the Idea, according 
to which the characteristic preserves itself in its Other in 
such a way that this unity, which is itself implicitly the 
original essence of the two, is considered as their subjec- 
tive unity. Thus neither of them is one-sided, and they 
both together constitute the appearance of their unity, 
which is, to begin with, merely their substance, and 
thus eternally results from them as being the imma- 
nent appearance of totality, and is distinguished from 
them for itself as their unity, as this eternally unfolds 
itself in the form of their outward appearance. 

The two one-sided ways of elevating the spirit to God 
thus indicated, accordingly directly exhibit their one- 
sidedness in a double form. The relations which spring 
from this call for mention. What has in general to be 
effected is that in the characteristic of the one side, 
namely, Being, the other characteristic, namely, the Notion, 
should appear, and, conversely, that in this latter the first- 
mentioned should be exhibited. Each determines itself 
to its Other, gives itself the characteristic of its Other in 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 223 

and out of itself. If, accordingly, only the one side were 
to determine itself so as to be the other, this determina- 
tion would, on the one hand, be merely a passing over, in 
which the first would lose itself, or, on the other hand, 
a manifestation of itself, outside of itself, in which each 
would certainly preserve its independent existence, but 
would not return into itself, would not be that unity 
for itself. If we give to the Notion the concrete signifi- 
cation of God, and to Being the concrete signification of 
Nature, and conceived of the self-determination of God 
in the form of Nature, as found only in the first of the 
connections indicated, this would be the process whereby 
God becomes Nature. But if, according to the second of 
the connections, Nature is to be taken merely as a mani- 
festation of God, then she, as something in course of 
transition, would represent the unity inherent in this only 
for a third thing, only for us, and this would not be unity 
which is actually present in-and-for-itself, the true unity, 
determined beforehand. When we put this thought in 
more concrete forms, and conceive of God as the Idea 
existing for itself from which we start, and think of Being 
as also the totality of Being, as Nature, then the advance 
from the Idea to Nature takes (i) the form simply of a 
passing over into Nature, in which the Idea is lost .and 
disappears. (2) In order to bring out more clearly the 
meaning of this transition, we may say that this would be 
merely an act of remembrance on our part that the simple 
result had issued from an Other which had, however, dis- 
appeared. So far, again, as the outward form is concerned, 
it would be simply we who had brought the semblance or 
appearance into relation with its Essence and referred it 
back to this. Or, looking at the question from a broader 
standpoint, we may say that God had merely created 
Nature, not a finite spirit which returns from Nature 
back to Him ; that He had an unfruitful love of the world 
as of something which was the mere semblance or show 
of Himself, and which as such remained an Other in 



22* THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

relation to Him which did not reflect Him, and through 
which He did not shine as through Himself. And what 
is the third thing supposed to be ; what are we supposed 
to be who have brought this show or semblance into rela- 
tion with its Essence, and referred it back to its central 
point, and have been the means whereby the Essence first 
manifested itself and appeared in itself ? What would this 
third thing be ? What would we be ? We would repre- 
sent a knowledge whose existence was presupposed in an 
absolute way, in fact an independent act of a formal 
universality which embraced everything in itself, and in 
which that necessarily existing unity which is in-and-for- 
itself would itself be included as a mere phenomenon or 
semblance without objectivity. 

If we form a more definite conception of the relation 
which is set forth in this determination, then it will be seen 
that the elevation to God of determinate Being, of Nature, 
and of natural Being in general, and, along with this, of our 
consciousness, the active form of- this elevation itself, is 
simply religion or piety which rises to God in a subjective 
way only, either simply in the shape of an act of transition 
whereby we disappear in God, or by setting ourselves 
over against Him as a semblance or illusion. If the finite 
were thus to disappear in Him, He would be merely the 
absolute substance, from which nothing proceeds, and into 
which nothing returns to itself, and even to form ideas of 
or to think of the absolute substance would be already 
too much, something which would itself have to disappear. 
If, however, the relation of reflection is still preserved, the 
elevation of the pious mind to God, in the sense that 
religion as such, and consequently the subjective for itself, 
continues to represent what has Being and is independent, 
then what is primarily independent or self-existent, and 
the elevation to which constitutes religion, is something 
produced by religion, something conceived of, postulated, 
thought or believed, an appearance or semblance merely, 
not anything truly independent which starts from itself. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 225 

It is substance as an idea merely, which does not decide 
for itself, and which consequently is not the activity 
which as activity is found only in the subjective elevation 
as such. It would not in this case be known and recog- 
nised as true that God is the Spirit who Himself arouses 
in men that desire to rise to Him, that religious feeling 
in which the elevation begins. 

If from this one-sideduess there results a broader idea 
and a further development of what does not, to begin 
with, get beyond something which has the character of a 
reflex semblance, and if we thus reach its emancipation, 
in which it, as being independent and active, would in its 
turn be defined as not-semblance, then we would attribute 
to this independent existence merely a relative, and con- 
sequently a half connection with its other side, which 
contained in it itself a non-communicating and incommu- 
nicable kernel which had nothing to do with the Other. 
We would be dealing merely with the superficial form, in 
which the two sides were apparently related to each other, 
and which would not imply a relation springing from their 
essence and established by their essence. Both sides conse- 
quently would be wanting in the true, total return of Spirit 
into itself, and Spirit would thus not search into the deep- 
things of the Godhead. But this return into itself and 
this searching into the Other are essentially eoincident ;. 
for mere immediacy, substantial Being, does- not imply 
anything deep. It is the real return into self which 
alone makes the depths of God, and it is just the act off 
searching into the Essence which is return into self. 

We may stop here with this preliminary reference to- 
the more concrete sense of the difference indicated,. and 
which we discovered by means of reflection. What had 
to be called attention to was that the difference is not a 
superfluous multiplicity ; further, that the division spring- 
ing from it, and which was, to begin with, of a formal and 
external character, contains two characteristics Nature, 
natural things, and the progress of consciousness to God 

VOL. III. P 



226 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and from Him back to Being, both of which equally and 
necessarily belong to one conception, and this quite as 
much in the course of the subjective procedure of know- 
ledge as when they have an absolutely objective concrete 
sense, and, regarded each for itself, present a one-sided- 
ness of a most important kind. So far as knowledge is 
concerned, their integration is found in the totality which 
the Notion in general represents, and, more strictly speak- 
ing, in what was said about it, namely, that its unity as a 
unity of the two moments is a result representing the most 
absolute basis and result of the two moments. Without, 
however, presupposing this totality and its necessity, it 
will follow from the result of the one movement and 
since we are beginning we can begin only in a one-sided 
way from the one that by its own dialectic nature it 
forces itself to go over into the other, and passes from 
itself over into this complete integration. The objective 
signification of what is, to begin with, a merely subjective 
conclusion will, however, at once make it evident that the 
inadequate, finite form of that proof is done away with. 
Its finitude consists, above all, in this one-sidedness which 
attaches to its indifference and its separation from the con- 
tent. "When this one-sideduess has been done away with 
and absorbed, it comes to have the content also in itself 
in its true form. The process of elevation to God is in 
itself the abolition of the one-sidedness of subjectivity in 
general, and, above all, of knowledge. 

To the distinction which, regarded from the formal side, 
appears as a difference in the kinds of the proofs of the 
existence of God, there has yet to be added the fact that 
if we look at the proof from the one side according to 
which we pass from the Being of God to the conception 
of God, it presents itself under two forms. 

The first proof starts from the Being which as some- 
thing contingent does not support itself, and from this 
reasons to a true necessary Being in-and-for-itself this 
is the proof ex contingentia mundi. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OP GOD 227 

The other proof starts from Being in so far as it has 
a definite character determined in accordance with rela- 
tions implying an end, and reasons to a wise author of 
this Being this is the Teleological Proof of the existence 
of God. 

We have still to deal with the other side, according 
to which the notion or conception of God is made the 
starting-point, and from which we reason to its Being 
the Ontological Proof. As this is the plan we mean to 
follow out, there are thus three proofs which we have to 
consider ; and also, as being of no less importance, we have 
to consider the criticism which has been given of them, 
and owing to which they have been discarded and for- 
gotten. 



TENTH LECTURE 

THE proofs we have to deal with, regarded in their fii^st 
aspect, presuppose the world in general, and, above all, its 
contingency. The starting-point is constituted by em- 
pirical things, and by the Whole composed of these things, 
namely, the world. The Whole is certainly superior to 
its parts, the Whole, that is to say defined as the unity 
which embraces and gives their character to all the parts, 
as, for instance, even when we speak of the Whole of a 
house, and still more in the case of that Whole which is 
a self-existent unity, as the soul is in reference to the 
living body. By the term world, however, we understand 
the aggregate of material things, the collection merely of 
that infinite number of existing things which are actually 
visible, and each of which is, to begin with, conceived of 
as existing for itself. The world embraces men equally 
with natural things. When the world is thus taken as 
an aggregate, and even as an aggregate merely of natural 
things, it is not conceived of as Nature, by which we under- 
stand something which is in itself a systematic Whole, a 
system of arrangements and gradations, and particularly of 
laws. The term world as thus understood expresses the 
aggregate merely, and suggests that it is based simply on 
the existing mass of things, and has thus no superiority, 
no qualitative superiority at least, over material things. 

So far as we are concerned, these things further deter- 
mine themselves in a variety of ways, and chiefly as limited 
Being, finitude, contingency, and so on. This is the kind 
of starting-point from which the spirit raises itself to God. 
It adjudges limited, finite or contingent Being to be untrue 
Being, above and beyond which true Being exists. It 



228 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 229 

escapes into the region of another, unlimited Being, which 
represents the Essence as opposed to that unessential, 
external Being. The world of finitude, of things tem- 
poral, of change, of transitoriness, is not the true form of 
existence, but the Infinite, Eternal, and Unchangeable. 
And even if what we have called limitless Being, the 
Infinite, Eternal, and Unchangeable, does not succeed in 
expressing the absolute fulness of meaning contained in 
the word God, still God is limitless Being, He is infinite, 
eternal, and unchangeable, and thus the spirit rises at least 
to those divine predicates or to those fundamental qualities 
of His nature which, though abstract, are yet universal, 
or at least to that universal region, to the pure sether in 
which God dwells. 

This elevation of the soul to God is, speaking generally, 
that fact in the history of the human spirit which we call 
religion, but religion in a general sense, that is, in a purely 
abstract sense, and thus this elevation is the general, but 
merely the general, basis of religion. 

The principle of immediate knowledge does not get 
beyond this elevation as a fact. It appeals to it, and rests 
in it as a fact, and asserts that it represents that universal 
fact in men, and even in all men, which is called the inner 
revelation of God in the human spirit, or reason. We 
have already sufficiently examined this principle, and I 
accordingly refer to it once more only in so far as we here 
confine our attention to the fact in question. This very 
fact, the act of elevation to God namely, is as such rather 
something which is directly of the nature of mediation. 
It has its beginning and starting-point in finite, contingent 
existence, in material things, and represents an advance 
from these to something else. It is consequently mediated 
by that beginning, and is an elevation to what is infinite 
and in itself necessary, only inasmuch as it does not stop 
short at that beginning which is here alone the Immediate 
(and this an Immediate which afterwards exhibits a merely 
relative character), but rises to the Infinite by the mediate 



230 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

step of the abandonment and renunciation of such a stand- 
point. This elevation which is represented by conscious- 
ness, is consequently in itself mediated knowledge. 

With regard to the point from which this elevation 
starts, we may here further remark that the content is 
not of a sensuous kind, not an empirical concrete content 
composed of sensation or perception, nor a concrete content 
of imagination the truth rather being that the abstract 
thought-determinations implied in the ideas of the fini- 
tude and contingency of the world form the starting- 
point. The goal at which the elevation arrives is of a 
similar kind, namely, the infinitude or absolute necessity 
of God, conceived of not as having a more developed and 
richer determination, but as being wholly within the 
limits of these general categories. With regard to this 
aspect of the question it is necessary to point out that the 
universality of the fact of this elevation is false so far as 
its form is concerned. For instance, it can be maintained 
that even amongst the Greeks the thought of infinity, 
of inherently existing necessity as representing the ulti- 
mate principle of all things, was the possession of the 
philosophers only. Material things did not appear in this 
general way to the popular conception in the abstract form 
of material things and as contingent and finite things, but 
rather in their empirical and concrete shape. So in the 
same way God was not conceived of under the category of 
the Infinite, the Eternal, the inherently Necessary, but, on 
the contrary, in accordance with the definite shapes created 
by the imagination. Still less is it the case that those 
nations who occupied a lower stage of culture put their 
conceptions in any such actually universal forms. These 
general forms of thought do certainly pass through men's 
minds, as we say, because men are thinking beings, and 
when they have received a fixed form in language they 
are still further developed into the conscious thought upon 
which the proof proper is based, but even in that case 
they take, to begin with, the form of characteristics of 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 231 

concrete objects ; they don't require to get a fixed place 
in consciousness as independent in their own right. It 
was to the culture of our time that these categories of 
thought first became familiar, and they are now universal, 
or at least universally diffused. But those very people 
who have shared in this culture, and no less those who 
have been referred to as unpractised in the independent 
exercise of thought based on general conceptions, have 
not reached this idea in any immediate way, but, on the 
contrary, by following the varied course of thought, and by 
the study of the sense in which words are used. People 
have essentially learned to think, and have given currency 
to their thoughts. The culture which is capable of abstract 
conception is something which has been reached through 
mediation of an infinitely manifold character. The one 
fact in this fact of the elevation of Man to God is that 
it is a mediation. 

It is this circumstance, namely, that the elevation of the 
spirit to God has mediation in itself, which invites to proof, 
that is, to the explication of the separate moments of this 
process of the spirit, and to their explication in the form of 
thought. It is the spirit in its most inward character, that 
is, in its thought, which produces this elevation, which in its 
turn represents the course followed by the thought-deter- 
minations or characteristic qualities of thought. What is 
intended to be effected by this process of proof is that this 
activity of thought should be brought into consciousness, 
that consciousness should recognise it as representing those 
moments of thought in a connected form. Against this 
unfolding of these moments which shows itself in the 
region of mediation through thought, faith, which wishes 
to continue to be immediate certainty, protests, and so, too, 
does the criticism of the Understanding, which is at home 
in the intricacies of that mediation, and is at home in the 
latter in order that it may introduce confusion into the 
elevation itself. So far as faith is concerned, we may say 
that however many faults Understanding may find with 



232 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

these proofs, and whatever defective points there may be in 
their manner of unfolding the moments of the elevation of 
the spirit from the accidental and temporal to the infinite 
and eternal, the human heart will not allow itself to be 
deprived of this elevation. In so far as the human heart 
has been checked in this matter of elevation to God by 
the Understanding, faith has, on the one hand, appealed to 
it to hold fast by this elevation, and not to trouble itself 
with the fault-finding of the Understanding ; but it has, on 
the other hand, told itself not to trouble about proof at 
all, in order that it may reach what is the surest standing 
ground, and in the interest of its own simplicity it has 
ranged itself on the side of the critical Understanding in 
direct opposition to proof. Faith will not allow itself to 
be robbed of its right of rising to God, that is, of its witness 
to the truth, because this is inherently necessary, and is 
more than any single chance fact connected with Spirit. 
There are facts, inner experiences in Spirit, and still more 
are there in the individual spirits for Spirit does not 
exist as an abstraction, but in the form of many spirits 
facts of an infinitely varied sort, and sometimes of the most 
opposite and depraved character. In order that this fact 
may be rightly conceived of as a fact of Spirit as such, and 
not merely as a fact belonging to the various ephemeral 
contingent spirits, it is requisite to conceive of it in its 
necessary character. It is this necessary character which 
alone vouches for its truth in this contingent and arbitrary 
sphere. The sphere to which this higher fact belongs is, 
further, essentially the sphere of abstraction. Not only 
is it very difficult to have a clear and definite conscious- 
ness of what abstraction is and what is the nature of its 
inner connection, but this power of abstraction is itself 
the real danger, and this is a danger which is unavoidable 
when abstraction has once appeared, when the believing 
human spirit has once tasted of the Tree of Knowledge, 
and thought. has begun to spring up within it in the free 
and independent form which peculiarly belongs to it. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 233 

If, accordingly, we look more narrowly at the inner 
course followed by Spirit in thought and its moments, it 
will be seen, as has been already observed, that the first 
starting-point represents a category of thought, namely, 
that of the contingency of natural things. The first form 
of the elevation of the spirit to God is represented histori- 
cally by the so-called Cosmological Proof of the existence 
of God. It has also been pointed out that on the definite- 
ness of the starting-point depends also the definiteness of 
the goal which we wish to reach. Natural things might 
be defined in another way, and in that case the result or 
the truth would also be differently defined. We might 
have differences which would appear unimportant to very 
imperfectly developed thought, but which from that stand- 
point of thought which we at present occupy would be seen 
to be the very thing with which we were really concerned 
and which has to be reckoned with. If things were thus 
defined in a general way as existing, it might be shown that 
the truth of existence as determinate Being, was Being itself, 
indeterminate, limitless Being. God would thus be defined 
as Being the most abstract of all definitions, and the one 
with which, as is well known, the Eleatics started. We 
recall this abstraction most vividly in connection with the 
distinction already made between thought in its inner and 
implicit form and the bringing forward of thoughts into 
consciousness. Who is there who does not use the word 
Being ? (The weather is fine. Where are you ? and so on, 
ad infinitum.) And who, in forming conceptions, does not 
make use of this pure category of thought, though it is 
concealed in the concrete content (the weather, and so 
on, ad infinitum), of which consciousness in forming any 
such conceptions is composed, and of which alone, therefore, 
it has any knowledge ? There is an infinite difference be- 
tween the possession and employment of the category of 
thought called Being in this way, and its employment by 
the Eleatics, who gave it a fixed meaning in itself, and 
conceived of it as the ultimate principle, as the Absolute, 



234 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

along with God at least, or apart from any God at all. 
Further, when things are defined as finite, Spirit has risen 
from them to what is infinite ; and when they are defined 
at the same time as real Being, then Spirit has risen to 
the Infinite as representing what is ideal or ideal Being. 
Or if they are expressly defined as having Being in a 
merely immediate way, then Spirit rises from this pure 
immediacy, which is a mere semblance of Being, to the 
Essence, and regards this as representing the ground or 
basis of Being. It may again rise from them as repre- 
senting parts, to God as representing the Whole ; or from 
them as external and selfless things, to God as representing 
the force behind them ; or from them as effects, to their 
cause. All these characteristics are applied to things by 
thought, and in the same way the categories of Being, the 
Infinite, the Ideal, Essence and Ground, the Whole, Force, 
Cause, are used to describe God. It is implied that they 
may be employed to describe Him, yet still as suggesting 
that though they may be validly applied to Him, and 
though God is really Being, the Infinite, Essence, the 
Whole, Force, and so on, they do not, all the same, exhaust 
His nature, which is deeper and richer than anything such 
determinations can express. The advance from any such 
determination of existence taken as a starting-point and 
as representing the finite in general, to its final determina- 
tion, that is, to the Infinite in thought, deserves the name 
Proof exactly in the same way as those proofs to which 
the name has been formally given. In this way the 
number of proofs goes far beyond that of those already 
mentioned. From what standpoint are we to regard this 
further increase in the number of the proofs which have 
thus grown up in what is perhaps for us an unpleasant 
way ? We cannot exactly reject this multiplicity of argu- 
ments. On the contrary, when we have once placed our- 
selves at the standpoint of those mediations of thought 
which are recognised as proofs, we find we have to explain 
why in thus adducing them we have confined, and can 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 235 

confine, ourselves just to the number mentioned, and to 
the categories contained in them. In reference to this 
new and further extended variety of proofs, we have to 
think principally of what was said in connection with 
those which appeared at an earlier stage and in a more 
limited shape. This multiplicity of starting-points which 
thus presents itself is nothing else than that large number 
of categories which naturally belong to the logical treat- 
ment of the subject. We have merely to indicate the 
manner in which they point to this latter. They show 
themselves to be nothing but the series of the continuous 
determinations which belong to the Notion, and not to any 
one notion, but to the Notion in itself. They represent 
the development of the Notion till it reaches externali- 
sation, the condition in which its elements are mutually 
exclusive, though it has really gone deeper into itself. 
The one side of this continuous advance is represented 
by the finite definiteness of a form of the Notion ; the 
other, by its most obvious truth, which is in its turn 
simply the truth in a more concrete and deeper form than 
that which preceded it. The highest stage in one sphere 
is at the same time the beginning of a higher stage. It 
is logic which unfolds in its necessity this advance in the 
determination of the Notion. Each stage through which 
it passes so far involves the elevation of a category of 
finitude into its infinitude, and it thus likewise involves 
from its starting-point onwards a metaphysical concep- 
tion of God, and, since this elevation is conceived of in 
its necessity, a proof of His Being. Thus also the tran- 
sition from the one stage to the higher stage presents 
itself as a necessary advance in more concrete and deeper 
determination, and not only as a series of random con- 
ceptions, and so as an advance to perfectly concrete truth, 
to the full and perfect manifestation of the Notion, to the 
equating or identification of these its manifestations with 
itself. Logic is, so far, metaphysical theology, which treats 
of the evolution of the Idea of God in the aether of pure 



236 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

thought, and thus concerns itself peculiarly with this Idea, 
which is perfectly independent in-and-for-itself. 

Such detailed treatment is not the object of these lec- 
tures. We wish to confine ourselves here to the his- 
torical discussion of those characteristics of the Notion 
the rising from which to the characteristics of the Notion 
which are its truth, and which may be held to be the 
characteristics of the Notion of God, is the point to be 
considered. The reason of the general incompleteness 
which marks that method of taking up the characteristics 
of the Notion can only be found in the defective ideas 
prevalent with regard to the nature of the characteristics 
of the Notion itself, and of their mutual connection, as 
well as of the nature of the act of rising from them as 
finite to the Infinite. The more immediate reason why 
the characteristic of the contingency of the world and that 
of the absolutely necessary Essence which corresponds to 
it appear as the starting-point and as the result of the 
proof respectively and this reason is at the same time 
a relative justification of the preference given to them 
is to be looked for in the fact that the category of the 
relation between contingency and necessity is that in 
which all the relations of the finitude and the infinitude 
of Being are resumed and comprised. The most concrete 
determination of the finitude of Being is contingency, and 
in the same way the infinitude of Being in its most com- 
pletely determined form is necessity. Being in its own 
essentiality is reality, and reality is in itself the general 
relation between contingency and necessity which finds 
its complete determination in absolute necessity. Fini- 
tude, by being taken up into this thought-determination, 
has the advantage, so to speak, of being so far prepared 
by this means as to point in itself to the transition to its 
truth or necessity. The term contingency, or accident, 
already suggests a kind of existence whose special character 
it is to pass away. 

Necessity itself, however, has its truth in freedom; with 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 237 

it we enter into a new sphere, into the region of the Notion 
itself. This latter accordingly affords another relation for 
the determination of elevation to God and for the course 
it follows, a different determination both of the starting- 
point and the result, and, first of all, the determination 
of what is conformable to an end, and that of the End. 
This accordingly becomes the category for a further proof 
of the existence of God. But the Notion is not some- 
thing merely submerged in objectivity, as it is when re- 
garded as an end, in which case it is merely the deter- 
mination of things ; but, on the contrary, it is for itself, 
and exists independently of objectivity. Eegarded in 
this light, it is itself the starting-point, and its transition 
has a determination of its own, which has been already 
referred to. The fact, therefore, that the first Proof, the 
Cosmological Proof, adopts the category of the relation of 
contingency and absolute necessity, finds, as has been re- 
marked, its relative justification in this, that this relation 
is the most individual, most concrete, and, in fact, the 
ultimate characteristic of reality as such, and accordingly 
represents and comprises in itself the truth of the more 
abstract categories of Being taken collectively. The move- 
ment of this relation likewise includes the movement of 
the earlier, more abstract characteristics of finitude to the 
still more abstract characteristics of infinitude; or rather, 
it is, in a logically abstract sense, the movement, or pro- 
cedure of the proof, that is, it is the form of syllogistic 
reasoning, in all cases only one and the same, which is 
represented in it. 1 

As is well known, the effect of the criticism directed by 
Kant against the metaphysical proofs of the existence of 
God has been that these arguments have been abandoned, 
and that they are no longer mentioned in any scientific 
treatise on the subject ; in fact, one is almost ashamed to 

1 Lecture X. ends here, and what follows is a fragment found amongst 
Hegel's papers, and inserted at this point by the German editor. 



238 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

adduce them at all. It is allowed, however, that they 
may be used in a popular way, and these helps to truth 
are universally employed in connection with the instruc- 
tion of youth, and the edification of those who are grown 
up. So, too, that eloquence which has for its principal 
aim to warm the heart and elevate the feelings necessarily 
takes and uses them as the inner fundamental and con- 
necting principles of the ideas with which it deals. With 
regard to the so-called Cosmological Proof, Kant (" Critique 
of Pure lieasou," 2nd edition, p. 643) makes the general 
remark that if we presuppose the existence of anything, 
we cannot avoid what follows from this, namely, that 
something or other exists in a necessary way, and that 
this is an absolutely natural conclusion ; and he goes on 
further to remark, at p. 651, with regard to the Physico- 
theological Proof, that "it ought always to be mentioned 
with respect, since it is the oldest, the clearest, and the 
one most in harmony with ordinary human reason." He 
declares that " it would not only be a comfortless task, but 
an absolutely useless one, to attempt to detract in any way 
from the authority of this proof." He holds, further, that 
" reason can never be so far repressed by any doubts sug- 
gested by subtle abstract speculation as to be unable to 
extricate herself from any such burrowing indecision as 
from a dream, by the mere glance which she directs to 
the wonders of Nature and the majesty of the universe, 
in order thus to go from one form of greatness to another 
until the highest of all is reached, and to rise from the 
conditioned to the condition, until she arrives at the 
supreme and unconditioned Author of all." 

If, then, the proof first adduced expresses an unavoid- 
able conclusion from which it is impossible to escape, and 
if it would be absolutely useless to seek to detract from 
the authority of the second proof, and if reason can never 
be so far repressed as to renounce this method of proof 
and not to rise through it to the unconditioned Author 
of all, it must certainly appear strange that we should 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 239 

evade the demand referred to, and if all the while reason 
be held to be so entirely repressed that it no longer at- 
taches any weight to this proof. But just as it may 
appear to be a sin against the good society of the philo- 
sophers of our time to continue to mention those proofs, 
it equally appears that the philosophy of Kant, and Kant's 
refutations of those proofs, are something which we have 
long ago done with, and which is therefore not to be men- 
tioned any more. 

The fact, however, is that it is Kant's criticism alone 
which has done away with these proofs in a scientific way, 
and which has itself become the source of the other and 
shorter method of rejecting them, that method, namely, 
which makes feeling alone the judge of truth, and as- 
serts not only that thought is superfluous, but that it 
is damnable. In so far, then, as we are concerned in 
getting to know the scientific reasons for which these 
proofs have lost their authority, it is Kant's criticism, 
alone with which we are called to deal. It is, however, 
to be noticed, further, that the ordinary proofs which 
Kant subjects to criticism, and in particular the Cosmo- 
logical and Physico-theological Proofs, whose method we 
are here considering, contain characteristics of a moie 
concrete kind than the abstract merely qualitative char- 
acteristics of finitude and infinitude. Thus the Cosmo- 
logical Proof contains the characteristics of contingent 
existence and of absolutely necessary Essence. It has 
also been observed that even when the antitheses are 
expressed by the terms conditioned and unconditioned, or 
by accident and substance, they still necessarily have here 
this merely qualitative meaning. Here, accordingly, the 
really essential point to be dealt with is the formal pro- 
cedure of the mediation connected with the proof; and, 
besides, the content and the dialectic nature of the char- 
acteristics themselves are not dealt with in the meta- 
physical syllogisms referred to, nor in Kant's criticism 
either. It is, however, just the mediation of this very 



240 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

dialectic element which it is necessary to carry through 
and pass judgment upon. For the rest, the particular 
mode in which the mediation in those metaphysical lines 
of argument, as well as that belonging to Kant's estimate 
of them, is to be conceived of, is, as a whole, the same; 
and this is true of all the separate proofs of the existence 
of God, that is, of all those belonging to the class which 
starts from some given form of existence. And if we 
here look more closely at the nature of this syllogism of 
the Understanding, we shall have also settled its character 
so far as the other proofs are concerned, and in dealing witli 
them we shall have to direct our attention merely to the 
content of the characteristics in its more definite form. 

The consideration of Kant's criticism of the Cosmological 
Proof comes to be all the more interesting from the fact 
that, according to Kant, this proof has concealed in it " a 
whole nest of dialectic assumptions, which, nevertheless, 
transcendental criticism is able to lay bare and destroy." 
I shall first restate this proof in the form in which it is 
usually expressed, which is the one employed by Kant, 
and which runs thus : If anything exists not merely 
exists, but exists a continyentia mundi, is defined as con- 
tingent then some absolutely necessary Essence must 
exist as well. Now I myself at least exist, and there- 
fore an absolutely rational Essence exists. Kant remarks, 
first of all, that the minor term contains something derived 
from experience, and that the major term concludes from 
experience in general that something necessary exists ; 
that consequently the proof is not carried through in an 
absolutely & priori way, a remark which connects itself 
with what was mentioned before as to the general nature 
of this style of argument, which takes up merely one 
aspect of the total true mediation. 

The next remark has reference to a point of supreme 
importance in connection with this style of argument, 
and which Kant expresses in the following form. The 
necessary Essence can be characterised as necessary only 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 241 

in one single mode, that is, in respect of all possible 
opposing predicates only by means of one of these, and 
consequently there can be only one single conception of 
any such thing, namely, that of the most real Essence 
a conception which confessedly forms the subject of the 
Ontological Proof, to be dealt with much later on. 

It is against this latter more comprehensive character- 
istic of necessary Essence that Kant first of all directs 
his criticism, and which he describes as a mere refinement 
of reasoning. The empirical ground of proof above 
mentioned cannot tell us what are the attributes of this 
necessary Essence. To reach these, reason has absolutely 
to part company with experience, and to seek in pure 
conceptions what kind of attributes or qualities an, 
absolutely necessary Essence must possess, and what 
thing amongst all possible things has the requisite quali- 
fications which should belong to an absolute necessity. 
We might attribute to the age the many marks of want 
of intellectual training which characterise these expres- 
sions, and be willing to admit that anything like this is 
not to be found in the scientific and philosophical modes 
of statement current in our day. At all events, God 
would not in these days be any longer qualified as a 
thing, nor would we try to seek amongst all possible 
things some one thing which should suit the conception 
of God. We speak indeed of the qualities or attributes of 
this or that man, or of Peruvian bark, and such like ; but 
in philosophical statements we do not speak of attributes 
in reference to God as a thing. Only we all the more 
frequently hear conceptions spoken of simply as abstract 
specific forms of thought, so that it is no longer necessary 
to indicate what we mean when we ask information regard- 
ing the notion or conception of anything, or when, in fact, 
we wish to form a conception of any object. It has, 
however, quite become a generally accepted principle, or 
rather it has come to form part of the belief of this 
age, that reason should be reproached with putting its 

VOL. III. Q 



242 THE .PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

investigations in the form of pure conceptions, and even 
that this should be reckoned a crime ; in other words, it 
is blamed for showing itself active in a way different from 
that of sense-perception, or from that followed by ima- 
gination and poetry. In the case of Kant we see, at 
any rate, in his treatment of the subject, the definite pre- 
suppositions from which he starts, and the logical result 
of the reasoning process he follows, so that any opinion 
arrived at is expressly reached and proved by means of 
principles, and it is held that any view must be deduced 
from principles, and be, in fact, of a philosophical kind. 
In our day, on the contrary, if we go along the highway 
of knowledge, we meet with the oracular utterances of 
feeling, and the assertions of the individual person who 
has the pretension to speak in the name of all men, and 
as a consequence of this pretends that he has also a right 
.to impose his assertions upon everybody. There cannot 
possibly be any kind of precision in the characteristics 
which spring from such sources of knowledge, nor in the 
form in which they are expressed, nor can they lay claim 
to be logical or to be based on principles or grounds. 

That part of Kant's criticism referred to suggests the 
definite thought, first of all, that the proof we are dealing 
with leads us merely to the idea of a necessary Essence, 
but that any such characteristic is different from the 
conception of God, that is, from the characteristic of the 
most real Essence, and that this latter must be deduced 
by reason from the former by means of conceptions pure 
and simple. It will at once be seen that if this proof 
does not bring us any further than to the idea of an 
absolutely necessary Essence, the only objection which 
could be urged against it would be, that the idea of God 
which is limited to what is implied in this characteristic 
is at any rate not such a profound idea as we, whose con- 
ception of God is more comprehensive, wish for. It is 
quite possible that individuals and nations belonging to 
an earlier age, or who, while belonging to our age, aie 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 243 

living outside the pale of Christianity and of our civilisa- 
tion, might have no more profound idea of God than this. 
For all such, this proof would consequently be sufficient 
enough. We may, in any case, allow that God and God 
only is the absolutely necessary Essence, even if this char- 
acteristic does not exhaust the Christian idea, which, as 
a matter of fact, includes in it something more profound 
than the metaphysical characteristic of so-called natural 
theology something more profound, too, than what is 
found in the conception of God which belongs to im- 
mediate knowledge and faith. It is itself questionable 
if immediate knowledge can even say this much of God, 
that He is the absolutely necessary Essence ; at any rate, 
if one person can know this much of God immediately, 
another may equally well not know so much of Him 
immediately in the absence of any right on the part of 
any one to expect more of him, for a right implies reasons 
and proofs, that is, mediations of knowledge, and media- 
tions are excluded from and forbidden to immediate 
knowledge of this kind. 

But if the development of what is contained in the 
characteristic of absolutely necessary Essence gives us 
still further characteristics as duly following from it, 
what objection can there be to accepting these, and to 
being convinced of their validity ? The ground of proof 
may be empirical ; but if the proof is in itself a properly 
deduced consequence, and if the existence of a necessary 
Essence is once for all established by this consequence, 
reason starting from this basis pursues its investigations 
by the aid of what are purely conceptions ; but this can 
be reckoned an unjustifiable act only when the employ- 
ment of reason in general is considered wrong, and, as a 
matter of fact, Kant carries the degradation of reason 
as far as those do who limit all truth to immediate 
knowledge. 

However, the characteristic of the so-called most real 
Essence is easily deducible from the characteristic of the 



244 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

absolutely necessary Essence, or even from the charac- 
teristic of the Infinite, beyond which we have not gone, 
for all and every limitation contains a reference to an 
Other, and is consequently opposed to the characteristic 
of the Absolutely-necessary and Infinite. 

The real illusion or fallacy in the mode of inference 
which is supposed to belong to this proof, is sought for 
by Kant in the proposition that every purely necessary 
Essence is at the same time the most real Essence, and he 
holds that this proposition is the nervus prdbandi of the 
Cosmological Proof. He seeks, however, to expose the 
fallacy by pointing out that, since a most real Essence is 
not one whit different from any other Essence, the pro- 
position permits of being simply inverted, that is, any 
and by this is meant the most real Essence is absolutely 
necessary, or, in other words, the most real Essence which 
as such gets its determinate nature by means of the 
Notion, must also contain within it the characteristic of 
absolute necessity. This, however, is just the principle 
and method of the Ontological Proof of the existence of 
God, which consists in this, that it starts from the notion 
or conception, and passes by means of the conception to 
existence. The Cosmological Proof uses the Ontological 
as a prop, since it promises to conduct us by a new foot- 
path, and yet after a short detour brings us back to the 
old one, the existence of which it refused to admit, and 
which we abandoned for its sake. 

It will be seen that the objection does not touch the 
Cosmological Proof, either in so far as this latter merely 
attains by itself to the characteristic of something abso- 
lutely necessary, or in so far as it advances from this by 
way of development to the further characteristic of what 
is most real. So far as this connection between the two 
characteristics in question is concerned, it being the point 
against which Kant particularly directs his objections, 
we can see that it is quite in accordance with the nature 
of proof that the transition from one already established 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 245 

characteristic to a second, or from a proposition already 
proved to another, should permit of being clearly ex- 
hibited ; but we can see, too, that reasoned knowledge 
cannot go back in the same way from the second to 
the first, and cannot deduce the second from the first. 
Euclid first demonstrated the proposition of the known 
relation between the sides of a right-angled triangle by 
starting from this definite quality of the triangle, and 
deducing the relationship of the sides from it. Then the 
converse proposition was also demonstrated, and in this 
case he started from the fact of this relation, and deduced 
from it the right-angled character of the triangle, the 
sides of which had that relation to one another, and yet 
this was done in such a way that the demonstration of 
this second proposition presupposed and made use of the 
first. In another instance this demonstration of the 
converse proposition is given apagogically by presuppos- 
ing the first. Thus the proposition, that if in a rectilineal 
figure the sum of the angles is equal to two right angles, 
the figure is a triangle, can be easily proved to follow 
apagogically from the proposition previously demonstrated 
that in a triangle the three angles together make two 
right angles. When it is shown that a predicate belongs 
to an object, we must go further if we are to show that 
such a predicate belongs to it exclusively, and that it is 
not merely one of the characteristics of the object which 
may belong to others as well, but that it is involved in 
the definition of the object. This proof might be stated 
in various ways, and is not compelled exactly to follow 
one single path, namely, that which starts from the con- 
ception of the second characteristic. Besides, in dealing 
with the connection between the so-called most real 
Essence and the absolutely necessary Essence, it is only 
one aspect of this latter that we have to take directly into 
account, and we have nothing at all to do with that 
aspect in reference to which Kant brings forward the 
difficulty discovered by him in the Ontological Proof. 



246 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The characteristic of absolutely necessary Essence in- 
volves the necessity partly of its Being, partly of the 
characteristics of its content. If it be asked what is 
implied in the further predicate, the all-embracing, un- 
limited reality, the reply is that this question has no 
reference to Being as such, but to what is to be further 
distinguished as the characteristic of the content. In the 
Cosmological Proof, Being has already a definite existence 
of its own, and the question as to how we pass from 
absolute necessity to the All-Reality, and back from the 
latter to the former, has reference to this content only, 
and not to Being. Kant finds the defect of the Onto- 
logical Proof in the fact that in connection with its 
fundamental characteristic, the All of realities, Being is 
likewise conceived of as a reality. In the Cosmological 
Proof, however, we have already this Being elsewhere. 
Inasmuch as it adds the characteristic of All-Reality 
to what is for it absolutely necessary, it does not at all 
require that Being should be characterised as reality, and 
that it should be comprised in that All-Reality. 

Kant in his criticism begins by taking the advance of 
the characteristic of the Absolutely-necessary to unlimited 
reality only in this sense, since, as was previously indi- 
cated, for him the point of this advance is the discovery 
of the attributes possessed by the absolutely necessary 
Essence, as the Cosmological Proof in itself has made 
only one step in advance, namely, to the existence of an 
absolutely necessary Essence in general, but cannot tell 
us what kind of attributes this Essence possesses. We 
must therefore hold that Kant is in error in asserting 
that the Cosmological Proof rests on the Ontological, and 
we must regard it as a mistake even to maintain that 
it requires this latter to complete it, that is, in regard 
to what it has in general to accomplish. That more, 
however, has to be accomplished than it accomplishes, is 
a matter for further consideration, and this further step 
is undoubtedly taken in the moment contained in the 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 247 

Ontological Proof. But it is not the need of thus going 
further, upon which Kant grounds his objection to this 
proof. On the contrary, his argument is conducted from 
points of view which lie wholly within the sphere of this 
proof, and which do not touch it. 

But the objection referred to is not the only one which 
Kant brings forward against the line of argument fol- 
lowed by the Cosmological Proof. He goes on (p. 637) 
to expose the "further assumptions," a "whole nest" of 
which, he declares, is concealed in it. 

It contains, above all, the transcendental principle 
according to which we reason from what is contingent to 
a cause. This principle, however, applies in the world 
of sense only, and has no meaning whatever outside of 
it. For the purely intellectual conception of the con- 
tingent cannot possibly produce a synthetic proposition 
such as that of causality, a proposition which has a mean- 
ing and a use merely in the world of sense, but which is 
supposed to help us to get beyond the world of sense. 
What is maintained here, on the one hand, is the well- 
known doctrine, which is Kant's main doctrine, of the 
inadmissibility of getting beyond sense by means of 
thought, and of the limitation of the use and meaning 
of the categories of thought to the world of sense. The 
elucidation of this doctrine does not come within the 
scope of our present treatment of the subject. What has 
to be said on this point may be summed up in the 
following question : If thought cannot pass beyond the 
world of sense, would it not be necessary, on the other 
hand, to show first of all how it is conceivable that 
thought can enter into the world of sense ? The other 
assertion is that the intellectual conception of the con- 
tingent cannot form the basis of a synthetic proposition 
such as that of causality. As a matter of fact, it is by 
means of this intellectual category of contingency that 
the temporal world as present to perception is conceived 
of; and by employing this very category which is an 



248 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

intellectual one, thought has already passed beyond the 
world of sense, and transferred itself to another sphere, 
without having found it necessary to endeavour to pass 
beyond the world of sense by using first of all the cate- 
gory of causality. Then, again, this intellectual concep- 
tion of the contingent is supposed to be incapable of 
producing a synthetic proposition such as is involved in 
the idea of causality. As a matter of fact, however, it 
has to be shown that the finite passes through itself, 
through what it is meant to be, through its own content, 
to its Other, to the Infinite itself ; and this is what forms 
the basis of a synthetic proposition according to Kant's 
use of the term. The nature of the contingent is of a 
similar kind. It is not necessary to take the category 
of causality as referring to the Other into which con- 
tingency passes over; on the contrary, this Other is, to 
begin with, the absolute necessity, and is consequently 
Substance also. The relation of substantiality, however, 
is itself one of those synthetic relations which Kant refers 
to as the categories, and this just means that " the purely 
.intellectual characteristic of the contingent" for the 
categories are essentially the characteristic qualities of 
thought gives rise to the synthetic principle of sub- 
stantiality, so that if we posit contingency we posit sub- 
stantiality as well. This principle which expresses an 
intellectual relation, and is a category, is certainly not em- 
ployed here in an element which is heterogeneous, namely, 
in the world of sense, but, on the contrary, in the intel- 
lectual world, which is its natural home. If it had no 
defect otherwise, it might, in fact, be applied with absolute 
justice in that sphere in which we are concerned with 
God, who can be conceived of only in thought and in 
Spirit, and this in opposition to its employment in the 
sensuous element, which is foreign to it. 

The second fundamental fallacy to which Kant directs 
attention (p. 637) is that contained in arguing from the 
impossibility of there being an infinite series of successive 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 249 

given causes in the world of sense, to the existence of a first 
cause. We are not justified in arguing thus on the prin- 
ciples which guide the use of reason even in experience 
itself, and still less can we extend this fundamental 
principle beyond experience. It is quite true we cannot 
within the world of sense and experience reason to the 
existence of a first cause, for in this world as a finite 
world there can be only conditioned causes. But just 
because of this, reason is not only justified in passing 
into the intelligible sphere, but is forced to do it ; or 
rather, as a matter of fact, it is only in this sphere that 
reason is at home. It does not pass beyond the world 
of sense, but because it has this idea of a first cause it 
simply finds itself in another region, and we can look for 
a meaning in reason only in so far as it and its idea are 
thought of as being independent of the world of sense, and 
as having an independent standing in-and-for-themselves. 
The third charge brought by Kant against reason in 
connection with this proof is that it finds what is a false 
self-satisfaction, inasmuch as in the matter of the com- 
pletion of the series of causes it finally casts aside a con- 
dition of any kind, while, as a matter of fact, there can 
be no necessity apart from a condition ; and he objects, 
again, that the fact that we cannot conceive of anything 
further is held to be a completion of the conception. 
Now it is certain that if we are dealing with an uncon- 
ditioned necessity, with an absolutely necessary Essence, 
we can reach it only in so far as it is conceived of as 
unconditioned, that is, in so far as the characteristic 
quality of having conditions has been done away with. 
But, adds Kant, anything necessary cannot exist apart 
from conditions. A necessity of this sort which rests on 
conditions, that is, on conditions external to it, is a merely 
external, conditioned necessity ; while an unconditioned 
absolute necessity is simply one which contains its con- 
ditions within itself, if we must speak of conditions in 
connection with it. The difficulty here is just the truly 



250 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

dialectic relation above referred to according to which 
the condition, or whatever other definition may be given 
of contingent existence or the finite, is something whose 
very nature it is to rise to the unconditioned, to the in- 
finite, and thus in what is conditioned to do away with 
what conditions, and in the act of mediating to do away 
with the mediation. Kant, however, did not penetrate 
beyond the relations of the Understanding to the concep- 
tion of this infinite negativity. Continuing this argument, 
he says (p. 641), we cannot avoid having the thought, 
and yet we cannot entertain it, that a Being whom we con- 
ceive of as the Highest should, as it were, say to Himself : 
I am from eternity to eternity, besides me there is nothing, 
unless what exists by my will; but whence then am 
I ? Here everything sinks under us, and floats without 
support or foothold in the presence merely of speculative 
reason, while it costs the latter nothing to allow the 
greatest as well as the smallest perfection to go. But 
there is one thing which speculative reason must above 
all else " allow to go," and that is the putting of such a 
question as, Whence am I ? into the mouth of the abso- 
lutely necessary and unconditioned. As if that outside 
of which nothing exists unless through its will, that 
which is simply infinite, could look beyond itself for an 
other than itself, and ask about something beyond itself. 

In bringing forward these objections, Kant, in short, 
gives vent to the view which he had, to begin with, in 
common with Jacobi, and which afterwards came to be 
the regular beaten track of argument, the view, namely, 
that where we do not have the fact of being conditioned 
along with what conditions, it is impossible to form con- 
ceptions at all in other words, that where the rational 
begins, reason ends. 

The fourth error to which Kant draws attention is 
connected with the ostensible confusion between the 
logical possibility of the conception of all reality and the 
transcendental characteristics, which latter will be further 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 251 

dealt with when we come to consider Kant's criticism 
of the Ontological Proof. 

To this criticism. Kant adds (p. 642) the "discovery" and 
" explanation " made in his peculiar style of the dia- 
lectic illusion which exists in all transcendental proofs of 
the existence of a necessary Essence, an explanation which 
contains nothing new ; and then we have in Kant's usual 
fashion an incessant repetition of what is always one and 
the same assurance, namely, that we cannot think the 
Thing-in-itself. 

He calls the Cosmological Proof, as he does the Onto- 
logical, a transcendental proof, because it is independent of 
empirical principles ; that is to say, it is supposed to be 
established, not by reasoning from any particular quality 
of experience whatsoever, but from pure principles of 
reason, and even abandons that method of deduction 
according to which existence is given through empirical 
consciousness, in order to base itself on what are simply 
pure conceptions. What better method indeed could 
philosophical proof adopt than that of basing itself only 
on pure conceptions ? Kant, on the contrary, in speaking, 
thus, intends to say the very worst he possibly can of 
this proof. So far, however, as the dialectic illusion is 
concerned, the discovery of which is here made by Kant, 
we find it to consist in the fact that while I must indeed 
allow that existence in general has a necessary element 
in it, no single thing can, on the other hand, be thought 
of as necessary in itself, and that I can never complete 
the act of going back to the conditions of existence with- 
out assuming the existence of something necessary while 
I can at the same time never start from this. 

It must in justice be allowed that this remark con- 
tains the essential moment on which the whole question 
turns. What is necessary in itself must show that it 
has its beginning in itself, and must be conceived of in 
such a way as to allow of its being proved that its begin- 
ning is in itself. This requirement is indeed the only 



252 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

interesting point, and we must assume that it lay at the 
bottom of what was previously referred to, namely, the 
trouble Kant took to prove that the Cosmological Proof 
rests on the Ontological. The sole question is as to 
how we can begin to show that anything starts from 
itself, or rather how we can combine the two ideas that 
the Infinite starts from an Other, and yet in doing this 
starts equally from itself. 

As regards the so-called explanation and solution, so 
to speak, of this illusion, it will be seen to be of the same 
character as the solution which he has given of what he 
calls the antinomies of reason. If I must think (p. 644 
of a certain necessary element as belonging to existing 
things in general, and yet am not warranted in think- 
ing that anything is necessary in itself, the unavoidable 
conclusion is that necessity and contingency cannot apply 
to, or have any connection with, the things themselves, 
because otherwise we would be landed in a contradiction. 
Here we have that tenderness towards things which will 
not permit any contradiction to be attached to them, 
although even the most superficial experience, equally 
with experience of the most thorough kind, everywhere 
shows that these things are full of contradictions. Kant 
then goes on to say that neither of these two funda- 
mental principles, of contingency and necessity, is objec- 
tive ; but that they can in any case be only subjective 
principles of reason, implying, on the one hand, that we 
cannot stop short unless with an explanation completed 
in an a priori way, while, on the other hand, any such 
complete explanation is not to be looked for, that is, not 
in the empirical sphere. Thus the contradiction is pre- 
served and is left wholly unsolved, while it is at the 
same time transferred from things to reason. If the 
circumstance that the contradiction such as it is here 
held to be, and such as it actually is, is not directly 
solved, implies a defect, then the defect would as a 
matter of fact have to be transferred to the so-called 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 253 

things which are partly merely empirical and finite, 
but are also partly that Thing-in-itself which is incapable 
of manifesting itself rather than to reason, which, even 
as understood by Kant, is the faculty which deals with 
ideas, with the Unconditioned and the Infinite. But in 
truth reason can in any case bear the weight of the con- 
tradiction, and can certainly solve it too ; and things, at 
all events, know how to bear it, or rather, we should say, 
they are only contradiction in the form of existence ; and 
this is true of that Kantian schema of the Thing-in-it- 
self quite as much as of empirical things, and only in so 
far as they are rational can they solve it directly within 
themselves. 

In Kant's criticism of the Cosmological Proof those 
moments are at least discussed on which the point at 
issue really turns. We have noted two circumstances 
connected with this criticism : first, that the Cosmological 
Argument starts from Being as a presupposition, and 
from this goes on to the content, to the conception of 
God ; and second, that Kant finds fault with the line of 
argument on the ground that it rests on the Ontological 
Proof, i.e., on the Proof in which the conception is pre- 
supposed, and in which we advance from this conception 
to Being. Since, according to the standpoint we at pre- 
sent occupy in conducting our investigation, the concep- 
tion of God has no further determinate quality than that 
of the Infinite, it follows that what we are concerned 
with is, speaking generally, the Being of the Infinite. 
In accordance with the distinction previously referred to, 
in the one instance it is Being from which we start, and 
which has to get a determinate character as the Infinite ; 
and in the other it is the Infinite from which we start, and 
which has to get a determinate character as having Being. 
Further, in the Cosmological Proof finite Being appears 
as a starting-point adopted empirically. The Proof 
essentially sets out from experience, as Kant says (p. 
633), in order to lay a really firm foundation for itself. 



254 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The relation here implied ought more strictly, however, 
to be referred back to the form of the judgment in 
general. In every judgment the subject is an idea 
which has been presupposed, and which is defined in the 
predicate, that is, an idea which is denned or determined 
in a general way by thought, which means, again, that 
the determinations or specific qualities of the content 
of the subject have to be indicated, even if, as in the 
case of the material predicates, red, hard, and so on, 
this general mode of determination, which is, so to speak, 
the share thought has in the matter, is really nothing 
more than the empty form of universality. Thus, when 
it is said that God is infinite, eternal, and so on, God is, 
to begin with, as a subject simply something hypothetical, 
existing in idea, and it is only in the predicate that it is 
first asserted what He is. So far as the subject is con- 
cerned, we do not know what He is, that is, what content 
He has, or what is the determinate character of the con- 
tent, as otherwise it would be superfluous to have the 
copula "is" and to attach the predicate to it. Then further, 
since the subject represents the hypothetical element 
which exists in idea, this presupposition can be taken as 
signifying what has Being, and as implying that the sub- 
ject is, or, on the other hand, that it is at first only an idea, 
that instead of being posited by sense-intuition, or sense- 
perception, it is posited in the sphere of ideas by imagi- 
nation, by conception, by reason, and that it, in fact, gets 
such content as it has in the sphere of general ideas. 

If we express these two moments in accordance with 
this more definite form, we shall at once get a more 
definite idea of the demands which are made upon them. 
Those moments give rise to the two following propositions 

Being defined, to begin with, as finite, 
is infinite ; and 
The Infinite is. 

For, so far as the first proposition is concerned, it is 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 25 

evident that it is Being properly so called which is presup- 
posed as a fixed subject, and that it is what must in any 
view of it remain, that is, it is what must have the predi- 
cate of the Infinite attached to it. Being in so far as it is, 
to begin with, characterised as finite, and because the finite 
and the Infinite are simultaneously conceived of as subjects, 
represents what is common to both. The real point is 
not that a transition is made from Being to the Infinite 
as representing something different from Being, but, on 
the contrary, that we pass from the finite to the Infinite, 
and that in this transition Being remains unaltered. It 
is consequently shown here to be the permanent subject 
whose first characteristic, namely, finitude, is translated 
into infinitude. It is almost superfluous to remark that 
since Being is conceived of as subject and finitude as 
simply one characteristic, and, in fact, as the subsequent 
predicate shows, as a purely transitory characteristic, 
when we are dealing with the proposition taken by itself 
alone : Being is infinite, or is to be characterised as in- 
finite, we must by the term Being understand Being as 
such, and not empirical Being, not the moral finite world. 

This first proposition is accordingly the proposition of 
the Cosmological Argument, Being is the subject, and 
this presupposition whether it is taken as given or de- 
duced, it does not matter how, is in reference to the act 
of proof as mediation through grounds or reasons in 
general, the immediate in general. This consciousness 
that the subject represents what is presupposed in general, 
is what is alone to be regarded as the important thing 
in connection with knowledge reached by demonstration. 
The predicate of the proposition is the content which 
must be proved to belong to the subject. Here it is the 
Infinite, which has consequently to be shown to be the 
predicate of Being and of its content, and as reached by 
means of mediation. 

The second proposition : the Infinite is, has the more 
definitely determinate content as its subject, and here it 



256 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

is Being which has to show itself to be what is mediated. 
It is this proposition which forms the real point of in- 
terest in the Ontological Proof, and has to appear as 
the result. So far as the demands of the kind of proof 
sought by the Understanding, and of the mere knowledge 
of the Understanding, are concerned, the proof of this 
second proposition as connected with the first proposition 
of the Cosmological Argument may be dispensed with ; 
but it is certainly demanded by the requirements of 
reason in its higher form, though this higher requirement 
of reason appears in Kant's criticism disguised, so to 
speak, as a mere piece of chicanery, which has been 
deduced from some more remote consequence. 

The fact, however, that these two propositions are 
necessary rests on the nature of the Notion, in so far as 
this latter is conceived of in accordance with its true 
nature, that is, in a speculative way. Here, however, it 
is presupposed that this knowledge of the Notion has been 
got from logic, just as it is presupposed in the same way 
that logic tells us that a true proof is rendered impossible 
by the very nature of such propositions as the two referred 
to. This may, however, be briefly indicated here as well, 
in accordance with the explanation which has been given 
regarding the peculiar nature of these judgments, and it 
is all the more fitting to make this plain at this point, 
since the current principle of so-called immediate know- 
ledge recognises and takes into consideration just this 
very proof of the Understanding and no other, a proof 
which is inadmissible in philosophy. What has to be 
demonstrated is a proposition, a judgment, in fact, with a 
subject and predicate. "We cannot, to begin with, find 
any fault with the demand here implied, and it looks as 
if the whole point turned on the nature of the act of 
proof. But the very fact that it is a judgment which has 
to be proved at once renders any true philosophical proof 
impossible. For it is the subject which is presupposed, 
and consequently becomes the standard for the predicate 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 257 

the truth of which has to be proved ; and accordingly the 
essential criterion so far as the proposition is concerned, 
is merely whether the predicate is adequate to the sub- 
ject or not, and idea or ordinary thought, on which the 
presupposition is based, is taken as deciding the truth. 
But the main and only concern of knowledge, the claims 
of which have not been satisfied, and which have not even 
been taken into account, is just to find out whether this 
very presupposition contained in the subject, and conse- 
quently the further specification which it gets through the 
predicate, is the totality of the proposition and is true. 

This is something which reason forces us to, working 
from within outward, unconsciously as it were. From what 
has been already adduced, it is evident that an attempt 
has been made to find what are called several proofs of 
the existence of God : the one set of which is based on one 
of the propositions above indicated, that, namely, in which 
Being is the subject and constitutes the presupposition, 
and in which the Infinite is a characteristic posited in it 
by means of mediation ; and the other set of which has for 
its basis the reverse proposition, by means of which the 
first of the propositions loses its one-sidedness. Here the 
defective element, namely, the fact that Being is presup- 
posed, is cancelled, and conversely it is now Being which 
has to be posited as mediated. 

What has to be accomplished by the proof has accord- 
ingly been stated in a complete enough way, but still the 
nature of the proof itself as such has been in consequence 
not touched upon. For each of the propositions has been 
stated separately, the proof of it accordingly starts from 
the presupposition which the subject contains, and which 
has each time to be shown to be necessary through the 
other, and not as immediately necessary. Either proposi- 
tion presupposes the other, and no true beginning can be 
found for them. For this very reason it appears at first 
to be a matter of indifference where a beginning is made. 
Only the starting-point is not a matter of indifference, and 

VOL. III. R 



258 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

the whole point just is to find out why it is not. The 
question is not as to whether or not we are to begin with 
one or other of the presuppositions, that is, with the imme- 
diate characteristic, the ordinary idea ; but rather, what we 
have got to see is that no beginning can be made with any 
such presupposition, that is, that it cannot be regarded and 
treated as forming the basis, the permanent foundation of 
the proof. 

For the statement that the presuppositions belonging to 
each of the two propositions of which the one is proved 
by the other have to be represented as mediated, when 
taken in its more obvious sense, deprives them of the 
essential meaning which belongs to them as immediate 
characteristics. For the fact that they are posited as 
mediated implies that their essential character consists in 
their being transitory rather than permanent subjects. In 
this way, however, the whole nature of the proof is altered, 
for it stood in need of having the subject as a fixed basis 
and standard. If it starts from something which has a 
transitory character, it loses all support, and cannot, in 
fact, have any existence at all. If we consider the form 
of the judgment more closely, it will be seen that what 
has just been explained is involved in the form itself, and, 
in fact, the judgment is what it is just owing to its form. 
It has, that is, for its subject something immediate, some- 
thing which has Being in general, while as its predicate, 
which is meant to express what the subject is, it has 
something universal, namely, thought. The judgment 
consequently itself signifies that what has Being is not 
a something having Being, but is a thought. 

This will at once become clearer from the example with 
which we are dealing, and which will better help us to un- 
derstand, however, why we are limited to what the example 
directly contains, namely, the first of the two propositions, 
in which the Infinite is posited as what has been mediated. 
The express consideration of the other, in which Being 
appears as a result, will be taken up in a different place. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 259 

The major proposition of the Cosmological Proof in the 
more abstract form in which we took it, contains what is 
the essential element of the connection of the finite and 
the Infinite, the thought, namely, that the latter is got by 
way of hypothesis out of the former. The proposition, 
" If the finite exists, the Infinite exists also," put in a more 
definite form is primarily the following : " The Being of 
the finite is not only its Being, but is also the Being of 
the Infinite." We have thus reduced it to its simplest 
form, and have left out of account those developments 
which might be added to it by means of the still further 
specified forms of reflection which belong to the Infinite 
as having its Being conditioned by the finite, or to the 
Infinite as being presupposed through the finite, or to the 
relation of causality between finite and Infinite. All these 
relations are contained in that one simple form. If, in 
accordance with the definition previously given, we speak 
of Being in more definite terms as the subject of the judg- 
ment, the proposition will run thus : " Being is to be 
defined not as finite only but also as infinite." The real 
point is the demonstration of this connection. This, as 
was shown above, springs from the conception of the 
finite, and this speculative way of dealing with the nature 
of the finite, with the mediation out of which the Infinite 
proceeds, is the pivot round which the whole question, 
namely, as to the knowledge of God and the philosophical 
understanding of Him, turns. The essential point, how- 
ever, in this mediation is, that the Being of the finite is 
not the affirmative, but that, on the contrary, the Infinite 
is posited and mediated by the abrogation of this Being 
of the finite. 

The essential and formal defect in the Cosmological 
Proof consists in the fact that finite Being is not only 
taken directly as the beginning and starting-point, but is 
regarded as something true, something affirmative, with an 
existence of its own. All those forms of reflection referred 
to, such as the presupposed, the conditioned, causality, 



260 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

have this in common, that what forms the presupposition, 
the condition, the effect, are taken as affirmative, and the 
connection is not conceived of as a transition, which it 
essentially is. What the study of the finite from a specu- 
lative point of view really yields, is not merely the thought, 
that if the finite exists, the Infinite exists too, not that 
Being is to be defined as not merely finite, but that it is 
further to be defined as infinite. If the finite were this 
affirmative, the major proposition would be the proposi- 
tion finite Being as finite is infinite, for it would be its 
permanent finitude which the Infinite included in itself. 
Those characteristics such as presupposition, condition, 
causality, when taken together, give a still greater stability 
to the affirmative show or appearance of the Being of the 
finite, and are for this very reason only finite, that is, 
untrue relations, relations of what is untrue. To get to 
know that this is their nature is what alone constitutes the 
logical interest attaching to them, though . their dialectic 
in accordance with their special characteristics takes in 
each case a special form, which is, however, based on the 
general dialectic of the finite already referred to. The 
proposition which ought to constitute the major proposi- 
tion of the syllogism must accordingly take the following 
form rather : the Being of the finite is not its own 
Being, but is, on the contrary, the Being of its Other, 
namely, the Infinite. Or to put it otherwise, Being which 
is characterised as finite possesses this characteristic only 
in the sense that it cannot exist independently in relation 
to the Infinite, but is, on the contrary, ideal merely, a 
moment of the Infinite. Consequently the minor proposi- 
tion : the finite is disappears in any affirmative sense, and 
if we may still say it exists, we mean that its existence 
is merely an appearance or phenomenal existence. It is 
just the fact that the finite world is merely a manifesta- 
tion or appearance which constitutes the absolute power 
of the Infinite. 

The form taken by the syllogism of the Understanding 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 261 

has no place for the dialectic character which thus marks 
the finite, nor has it any way of expressing it. It is not 
in a position to express the rational element in it; and 
since religious elevation is the rational element itself, it 
cannot find satisfaction in that form of the Understanding, 
for there is more in it than this form can express. It is 
accordingly in itself of the greatest importance that Kant 
should have deprived the so-called proofs of the existence 
of God of the regard they enjoyed, even though he had 
done no more than create a prejudice against them by 
showing their insufficiency. Only, his criticism of these 
proofs is insufficient in itself; and besides, he failed to 
recognise the deeper basis upon which these proofs rest, 
and so was unable to do justice to their true elements. 
It was he who at the same time began the complete 
maiming of reason, which has since his day been content 
to be nothing more than the source of purely immediate 
knowledge. 

So far we have been dealing with the elucidation 
of the conception which constitutes the logical element 
in the first characteristic of religion, and have been re- 
garding it, on the one hand, from the side from which it 
was viewed in metaphysics in its earlier phase ; while, on 
the other hand, we have been looking at the outward 
form in which it was put. But this is not sufficient if 
we are to get a real knowledge of the speculative concep- 
tion of this characteristic. Still, one part of this know- 
ledge has already been indicated, that, namely, which 
has reference to the passing over of finite Being into 
infinite Being, and we have now to indicate briefly the 
other part, the detailed elucidation of which will be de- 
ferred till we come to deal with another form of religion 
to be taken up subsequently. This is just what appeared 
previously in the form taken by the proposition : the 
Infinite is, and in which consequently Being is define^ 
in general as what is mediated. The proof has to de- 
monstrate this mediation. It already follows from the 



262 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

foregoing remarks that the two propositions cannot be 
separated from each other. The very fact that the form 
of the syllogism belonging to the Understanding is 
abandoned so far as the one is concerned, implies that 
the separation of the two has been abandoned also. The 
moment which has still to be dealt with is accordingly 
already contained in the given development of the dia- 
lectic of the finite. 

If, however, in showing how the finite passes over into 
the Infinite, we have made it appear as if the finite were 
taken as the starting-point for the Infinite, so, too, the 
other proposition, which is merely the converse proposi- 
tion or transition, seems to be necessarily defined as a 
passing over from the Infinite to the finite, or, in other 
words, has to take on the form of the proposition : " The 
Infinite is finite." In this equation the proposition : the 
Infinite is, would not contain the entire characteristic 
which has to be dealt with here. This difference dis- 
appears, however, when we consider that Being, since it 
is the Immediate, is directly differentiated from the 
characteristic of the Infinite, and is, as a direct conse- 
quence of this, characterised simply as finite. The logical 
nature which thus belongs to Being or immediacy in 
general is, however, presupposed as given by logic. This 
characteristic of the finitude of Being, however, comes 
directly into view in the connection in which Being here 
stands. For the Infinite, in resolving to become Being, 
determines itself to what is other than itself; but then the 
Other of the Infinite is just the finite. 

If, further, as was previously indicated, the subject 
appears in the judgment as something presupposed, what 
has Being in fact, while the predicate is something uni- 
versal, namely, thought, then in the proposition, " The In- 
finite is," a proposition which is at the same time a 
judgment, the determination seems rather to be reversed, 
since the predicate expressly involves Being, while the 
subject, the Infinite namely, exists in thought only, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 263 

though certainly in objective thought. Still we might 
remember the common idea that Being itself is only a 
thought, chiefly in so far as it is regarded in this abstract 
and logical way, and all the more if the Infinite, too, 
is only a thought, for in this case its predicate also 
could not possibly be anything else but a subjective 
thought. In any case, the predicate regarded from the 
point of view of its form in the judgment is the Universal 
and is thought, while considered according to its content 
or determinateness it is Being, and taken in a more 
definite sense it is immediate and also finite or particular 
Being. If, however, it is meant by this, that Being, be- 
cause it has been thought, is therefore no longer Being as 
such, then this is simply an absurd idealism which main- 
tains that if anything is thought it therefore ceases to be, 
or even that what is cannot be thought, and that therefore 
only nothing is thinkable. Still the idealism which enters 
into that aspect of the entire conception or notion to be 
considered here will be discussed later on when we enter 
on the explanation already indicated. The point, how- 
ever, to which attention should really be directed is, that 
it is just the judgment indicated which, owing to the 
antithesis of its content and its form, contains in it that 
counter-stroke which expresses the nature of the absolute 
union in one of the two previously separated sides, and 
which is the nature of the Notion itself. 

Put shortly, what we have so far learned regarding the 
Infinite is, that it is the affirmation of the self-annulling 
finite, the negation of the negation, what is mediated, but 
mediated by the annulling of the mediation. This already 
means that the Infinite is simple reference to self, that 
abstract equality with self which is called Being. Or, it 
is the self-annulling mediation, while the Immediate is 
just the mediation absorbed and annulled, in other words, 
that into which the self-annulling mediation passes, that 
which it becomes by annulling itself. 

It is just in consequence of this that this affirmation, 



264 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

this thing which is equal to itself in one, is thus immedi- 
ate and equal to itself only when it is simply the negation 
of the negation, that is, it itself contains the negation, the 
finite, but as an appearance or semblance which annuls 
itself and is preserved in something higher. Or, since the 
immediacy which it comes to be by this act that abstract 
equality with itself into which it passes over and which 
is Being is only the moment of the Infinite conceived 
of in a one-sided way, and the affirmative as representing 
it appears only as this entire process, and is therefore 
finite, it follows that the Infinite, in determining itself in 
the form of Being, determines itself as finitude. But 
finitude and this immediate Being are consequently just 
the negation which negates itself. This apparent end, 
the passing of the living dialectic into the dead repose of 
the result, is itself only the beginning again of this living 
dialectic. 

This is the Notion, the logical and rational element 
in the first abstract characteristic of God and religion. 
The side represented by the latter is expressed by that 
moment of the Notion which starts from immediate Being, 
and which is absorbed in and taken up into the Infinite. 
The objective side, however, as such is contained in the 
self-unfolding of the Infinite into Being and finitude, 
which, just because of this, is merely momentary and 
transitory transitory merely, in virtue of the infinitude 
whose manifestation it merely is, and which represents 
the force in it. The so-called Cosmological Proof is of 
use solely in connection with the effort to bring into 
consciousness what the inner life, the pure rational 
element of the inner movement, really is, and which, 
regarded in its subjective aspect, is called religious eleva- 
tion. If this movement, when it appears in that form of 
the Understanding in which we have seen it, is not con- 
ceived of and understood as it is in-and-for-itself, still 
the substantial element which forms its basis does not lose 
anything in consequence. It is this substantial element 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 265 

which penetrates the imperfection of the form and exer- 
cises its power ; or rather, we might say, it is itself the real 
and substantial force. The religious elevation of the soul 
to God consequently recognises itself in that expression of 
the truth, imperfect as it is, and is aware of its inner and 
true meaning, and so protects itself against the syllogism 
of the Understanding and its methods which stunt this 
true meaning. That is why, as Kant says (in the place 
already referred to, p. 632), "this method of proof un- 
doubtedly most readily carries persuasion with it, not only 
for the ordinary understanding, but for the speculative 
understanding too ; and it obviously contains, too, the 
main lines on which all the proofs of natural theology are 
based, and which have at all times been followed, and 
will be still further followed, however much people may 
try to trick them out and conceal them under all sorts 
of fancy embellishments ; " and, I add, it is possible by 
following the Understanding entirely to miss the mean- 
ing of the substantial element contained in these great 
fundamental lines of argument, and to imagine they have 
been formally refuted by the critical understanding, or, it 
may be, in virtue of the want of understanding as well 
as the want of reason characteristic of so-called imme- 
diate knowledge, politely to throw these arguments on 
one side unrefuted or to ignore them. 



ELEVENTH LECTURE 

HAVING given this explanation regarding the general 
scope of the characteristics of the content with which we 
are dealing, we shall now consider the course followed by 
the act of elevation first mentioned, in that particular 
form in which it is at present before us. This course 
consists simply in reasoning from the contingency of the 
world to an absolutely necessary Essence belonging to it. 
If we look at this syllogism as expressed in a formal 
way and at its particular elements, we find that it runs 
thus : The contingent does not rest upon itself, but, 
speaking generally, rests upon the presupposition of some- 
thing which is in itself absolutely necessary, and which 
we call its essence, ground, or cause. But the world is 
contingent, the single things in it are contingent, and it 
as representing the whole is the aggregate of these ; there- 
fore the world presupposes the existence of something 
absolutely necessary in itself. 

The determination from which this conclusion starts 
is the contingency of material things. If we take these 
things according as we find them in sensation and in 
ordinary thought, and if we compare the various processes 
which go on in the human mind, then we have a right 
to assert it to be a fact of experience that material things 
taken by themselves are regarded as contingent. Indi- 
vidual things do not come out of themselves, and do not 
pass away of themselves ; being contingent, they are 
destined to drop away, and this is not something which 
happens to them in an accidental way merely, but is 
what constitutes their nature. Even if the course they 
follow is one which develops within themselves and is 

366 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 267 

guided by rule and law, still it goes on till it reaches 
what is their end, or rather, it does nothing but lead up 
to their end ; and so, too, their existence is interfered 
with in all kinds of ways by other things, and is brought 
to an end by external causes. If they are regarded as 
conditioned, then we can see that their conditions are 
things which exist independently outside of them, and 
which may correspond to them or not, and by which they 
are temporarily supported, or, it may be, are not. To 
begin with, they are seen to be co-ordinated in space with- 
out being ranged together in accordance with any other 
relation naturally belonging to them. The most hetero- 
geneous elements are found side by side, and they can be 
separated without any kind of derangement being caused 
in the existence either of the one thing or the other. In 
the same way they succeed one another outwardly in 
time. They are, in fact, finite ; and however indepen- 
dent they may seem, they are essentially devoid of inde- 
pendence, owing to the limits attaching to their finitude. 
They are ; they are in a real sense, but their reality has 
the value of something which is merely a possibility ; they 
are, and can therefore equally well either be or not be. 

Their existence reveals the presence not only of con- 
nections between conditions, that is, the points of depen- 
dence owing to which they come to be characterised as 
contingent, but also the connections of cause and effect, 
the regular rules which govern the course they follow 
both inwardly and outwardly laws, in fact. These 
elements of dependence, this conformity to law, raises 
them above the category of contingency into the region 
of necessity, and thus necessity is found within that 
sphere which we thought of as occupied by what was 
contingent. Contingency claims things in virtue of their 
isolation, and therefore they may either exist or not exist ; 
but then, as governed by law, they are the opposite of 
what is contingent, they are not isolated, but are quali- 
fied, limited, related, in fact, to one another. They do 



268 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

not, however, fare any the better because of the presence 
of this antithesis in their nature. Their isolation gives 
them a semblance of independence ; but the connection 
in which they stand with other things with each other, 
that is directly expresses the fact that these single 
things are not independent, shows, that they are con- 
ditioned and are affected by other things, and are, in 
fact, necessarily conditioned by other things, and not by 
themselves. These necessary elements, these laws, would 
themselves consequently constitute the independent ele- 
ment. Anything which exists essentially in connection 
with something else has its essential character and sta- 
bility not in itself, but in this connection. It is the 
connection upon which these are dependent. But these 
connections, when defined as causes and effects, the con- 
dition and the fact of being conditioned, and so on, 
have themselves a limited character, and are themselves 
contingent in relation to each other in the sense that 
any one of them may equally well exist or not exist, and 
may just as easily be disturbed by circumstances that is, 
be interfered with by things which are themselves contin- 
gent, and have their active working and value destroyed, 
as the separate things over which they have no advantage 
in the matter of contingency. Those connections, on the 
other hand, to which necessity must be attributed, those 
laws, are not in any sense what we call things, but are 
rather abstractions. If the connection of necessity thus 
manifests itself in the region of contingent things in 
laws, and chiefly in the relations of cause and effect, this 
necessity itself takes the form of something conditioned, 
or limited appears, in fact, as an outward necessity. It 
is itself relegated to the class of categories applying to 
things, both in virtue of their isolation, that is, their 
externality, and conversely in virtue of their being con- 
ditioned, of their limitation and dependence. In the 
connection expressed by causes and effects we get not 
only the satisfaction which is wanting in the empty un- 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 269 

related isolation of things, which are just for this reason 
called contingent ; but the indefinite abstraction which 
attaches to the expression " things," the element of vari- 
ableness in them, disappears in this relation of necessity 
in which things become causes, original facts, substances 
that are active and indeterminate. But in the connec- 
tions which hold good in this sphere the causes are 
themselves finite ; beginning as causes, their Being is 
isolated, and therefore contingent; or it is not isolated, 
and in that case they are effects, and are consequently 
not independent, but posited through an Other. The 
various series of causes and effects are partly contingent 
relatively to each other, and are partly themselves con- 
tinued into the so-called Infinite, and thus contain in 
their content nothing but those situations and forms of 
existence of which each is finite in itself; and what ought 
to give stability to the connection of the series, the In- 
finite namely, is not only something above and beyond 
this world, but is a mere negative, the very meaning of 
which is relative merely, and is conditioned by what is 
to be negated by it, and is consequently for this very 
reason not negated. 

Spirit, however, raises itself above this crowd of things 
contingent, above the merely outward and relative neces- 
sity involved in them, above the Infinite, which is a mere 
negative, and reaches a necessity which does not any 
longer go Ueyond itself, but is in-and-for-itself, included 
within itself, and is determined as complete in itself, 
while all other determinations are posited by it and are 
dependent upon it. 

These may be in the form of ideas of an accidental 
or of a more concentrated kind, the essential moments of 
thought belonging to the inner life of the human spirit, 
to the reason which does not fully attain in a methodical 
and formal way the consciousness of its inner process, 
and still less gets so far as to be able to investigate those 
thought-determinations through which it passes, or the 



270 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

connections they involve. We have now got to see, how- 
ever, if thought, which in the process of reasoning pro- 
ceeds in a formal and methodical way, rightly conceives of 
and expresses the course followed in the elevation of the 
soul to God, which, so far, we have assumed to be a fact, 
and which we have been accustomed to deal with only 
in connection with the few fundamental characteristics 
belonging to it. Conversely, again, we have to find out 
whether those thoughts and the connection between them 
can be shown to be justified, and have their reality proved, 
by an examination of the thoughts in themselves, for it is 
only in this way that the elevation of the soul to God 
really ceases to be a supposition, and that the unstable 
element in any right conception of it disappears. "We 
must, however, decline to enter upon this examination 
here, seeing that if it were demanded on its own account 
we should have to go on to the ultimate analysis of 
thought. It has to be carried out in a thorough way in 
logic, the science of thought; for I identify logic with 
metaphysic, since the latter, too, is really nothing but an 
attempt to deal with some concrete content, such as God, 
the world, the soul, but in such a way that these objects 
have to be conceived of as noumena, that is, we have to 
deal with the element of thought in them. At this point 
it will be preferable to take up the logical results merely, 
rather than the formal development. An investigation of 
the proofs of the existence of God cannot be undertaken 
independently at all, if it is required to have philosophical 
and scientific completeness. Science is the developed con- 
nection of the Idea in its totality. In so far as any indi- 
vidual object is lifted out of that totality, which must be 
the goal of the scientific development of the Idea, as 
representing the only method of exhibiting its truth, limits 
must be set to the investigation undertaken, and these it 
must presuppose to be definitely fixed, as is the case in 
other instances of scientific inquiry. Still the investigation 
may come to have an appearance of independence, owing 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 271 

to the fact that the unexplained presuppositions, which 
are what constitutes the limits of what is dealt with, and 
which analysis reaches in the course of its progress, are 
in themselves in harmony with consciousness. Every 
work contains such ultimate ideas, or fundamental prin- 
ciples, upon which either consciously or unconsciously the 
content is based. There is in it a circumscribed horizon 
of thoughts which are no further analysed, the horizon of 
which rests upon the culture it may be of a period, of a 
nation, or of some scientific circle, and beyond which 
there is no need to go. In fact it would be prejudicial 
to what is called popular comprehension to attempt to 
extend this horizon beyond the limits of ordinary ideas 
by analysing these, and so to make it include speculative 
or philosophical conceptions. 

Still, since the subject of these lectures belongs in 
itself essentially to the domain of philosophy, we cannot 
dispense with abstract conceptions. We have, however, 
already mentioned those which belong to this first 
standpoint, and we have only to range them together 
in a definite way in order to reach the speculative 
element ; for, speaking generally, to deal with anything 
in a speculative or philosophical way simply means to 
bring into connection the thoughts which we already 
have. 

The thoughts, therefore, which have been already in- 
dicated, consist, first of all, of the following main charac- 
teristics : a thing, a law, &c., is contingent in virtue of 
its isolation ; the fact of its existence or non-existence 
does not bring about any derangement or alteration so 
far as other things are concerned. Then the fact that it 
is quite as little kept in existence by them, and that 
any stability it gets owing to them is wholly insufficient, 
gives them that very insufficient semblance of indepen- 
dence which is just what constitutes their contingency. 
The idea of necessity as applied to any existing thing, on 
the other hand, requires that it should stand in some 



272 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

connection with other things, so that regarded in any 
of its aspects it is seen to be completely determined 
by other existing things, in the form of conditions or 
causes, and cannot be separated from them or come into 
being of itself, nor can there be any condition, cause, or 
fact of connection by means of which it can be so sepa- 
rated, nor any such instance of connection as can con- 
tradict the other which qualifies the thing. In accordance 
with this description we place the contingency of a thing 
in its isolation, in the want of perfect connection with 
other things. This is the first point. 

Conversely, again, since an existing thing thus stands 
in a relation of perfect connection, it is in all its aspects 
conditioned and dependent, is in fact perfectly wanting 
in independence. It is, on the other hand, in necessity 
alone that we find the independence of a thing. "What 
is necessary must be. This fact that it must be, ex- 
presses its independence by suggesting that what is 
necessary is, because it is. This is the other point. 

We thus see that the necessity of anything requires 
two sorts of opposed characteristics : on the one hand, its 
independence, in which, however, it is isolated, and which 
makes its existence or non-existence a matter of indif- 
ference; and, on the other, its being based upon and 
contained in a complete relation to everything else 
whereby it is surrounded, and by the connection in- 
volved in which, it is kept in existence ; this means that 
it is not independent. The necessary element is a recog- 
nised fact quite as much as the contingent element. 
Eegarded from the point of view of the first of these 
ideas, everything exists in an orderly connection. The 
contingent is separated from the necessary, and points 
beyond it to a necessary something, which, however, 
when we look at it more closely, is itself included in 
contingency, just because, being posited by another, it is 
dependent. When, however, it is taken out of any such 
connection it is isolated, and is consequently directly 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 273 

contingent. The distinctions drawn are accordingly 
merely imaginary. 

Since it is not our intention to examine further the 
nature of these thoughts, and since we wish in the mean- 
time to leave the antithesis of necessity and contingency 
out of account, we shall confine ourselves to what is 
suggested by the idea we have given of them, namely, 
that neither of the determinations is sufficient to express 
necessity, but that for this both are required indepen- 
dence, so that the necessary may not be mediated by an 
Other ; and also the mediation of this independence in 
connection with the Other. They thus contradict each 
other, but since they both belong 'to the one necessity 
they must not contradict each other in the unity in 
which they are joined together in it. Our view of the 
matter renders it necessary that the thoughts which are 
united in this necessity should be brought into connec- 
tion in our minds. In this unity the mediation with an 
Other will thus itself partake of independence, and this, 
as a reference to self, will have the mediation with an 
Other within itself. In this determination, however, both 
can be united only in such a way that the mediation with 
an Other is at the same time a mediation with self, 
that is, their union must imply that the mediation with 
an Other abolishes itself, and becomes a mediation with 
self. Thus the unity with self is not a unity which is 
abstract identity, such as \ve saw in the form of the 
isolation in which the thing is related only to itself, 
and in which its contingency lies. The one-sidedness, 
on account of which alone it is in contradiction with the 
equally one-sided mediation by an Other, is done away 
with, and these untruths have thus disappeared. The 
unity thus characterised is the true unity, and when truly 
known is the speculative or philosophical unity. Neces- 
sity as thus denned, since it unites in itself these opposite 
characteristics, is seen to be something more than a simple 
idea or a simple determinateness ; and further, the dis- 

VOL. in. s 



274 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

appearance of the opposite characteristics in something 
higher is not merely our act, or a matter with which 
we only have to do, in the sense that we only bring it 
about, but expresses the very nature and action of these 
characteristics themselves, since they are united in one 
characteristic. So, too, these two moments of necessity, 
namely, that its mediation with an Other is in itself, and 
that it does away with this mediation and posits itself by 
its own act because of this very unity, are not separate 
acts. In the mediation with an Other it relates itself to 
itself, that is, the Other through which it mediates itself 
with itself is itself. Thus as an Other it is negated ; it 
is itself the Other, but only momentarily momentarily 
without, however, introducing the quality of time into 
the notion, a quality which first appears when the notion 
comes to have a definite existence. This Other-Being or 
otherness is essentially something which disappears in 
something higher, and it is in determinate existence also 
that it appears as a real Other. But the absolute neces- 
sity is the necessity which is adequate to its notion or 
conception. 



TWELFTH LECTURE 

IN the previous Lecture the notion or conception of 
absolute necessity was explained of absolute necessity, I 
repeat. Very often absolute means nothing more than 
abstract, and very frequently, too, it is imagined that 
when the word absolute is used everything is said that 
is necessary, and that no further definition can or ought 
to be given. As a matter of fact it is just with this defi- 
nition that we are chiefly concerned. Absolute necessity 
is abstract, the abstract pure and simple, inasmuch as 
it depends on itself and does not subsist in or from or 
through an Other. But we have seen that it is not only 
adequate to its notion or conception, whatever that notion 
be, so that \ve were able to compare this notion and 
its external existence ; but that it represents this Very 
adequacy itself. Thus what might be taken as the 
external aspect is contained in itself, so that this very 
fact that it depends on itself, this identity or reference 
to self which constitutes the isolation of things in virtue 
of which they are contingent, is a form of independence 
which again is really a want of independence. Possibi- 
lity is an abstraction of the same kind. A thing is possible 
if it does not contradict itself, that is, it is what is merely 
identical with itself, something in which there is no kind 
of identity with an Other, while, on the other hand, it has 
not its Other within itself. Contingency and possibility 
differ only in this, that the contingent has in addition a 
definite existence. The possible has only the possibility 
of existence. But the contingent itself has an existence 
which has absolutely no value beyond being a possibility; 
it is, but quite as much it is not. In the case of con- 



276 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

tingency, the nature of determinate Being or existence 
belonging to it is, as has been already remarked, so far 
evident that it is seen at the same time to have the 
character of something which is virtually a nullity, and 
consequently the transition to its Other, to the Necessary, 
is already expressed in that existence itself. It is an 
instance of the same thing as we have in abstract identity, 
which is a simple reference to self ; it is known as a pos- 
sibility, and being a possibility it is recognised that it 
is not yet anything. The fact that something is possible 
does not really imply anything. Identity is characterised 
as sterility, and that is what it really is. 

What is wanting in this characteristic finds its comple- 
ment, as we have seen, in the characteristic whicll is its 
antithesis. Necessity is not abstract, but truly absolute, 
solely in virtue of the fact that it contains the connection 
with an Other in itself, that it is self-differentiation, but 
a differentiation which has disappeared in something 
higher and is ideal. It consequently contains what 
belongs to necessity in general, but it is distinguished 
from this latter as being external and finite, and as 
involving a connection having reference to something 
else which remains Being and has the value of Being, 
and so is merely dependence. It goes by the name of 
necessity too, inasmuch as mediation is in general es- 
sential to necessity. The connection of its Other with 
something else, which is what constitutes it, does not get 
support from the ends for which it exists. Absolute 
necessity, on the other hand, transforms any such relation 
to an Other into a relation to itself, and consequently 
produces what is really inner harmony with itself. 

Spirit rises above contingency and external necessity, 
just because these thoughts are in themselves insufficient 
and unsatisfying. It finds satisfaction in the thought of 
absolute necessity, because this latter represents some- 
thing at peace with itself. Its result as result, however, 
is it is so, it is simply necessary. Thus all aspiration, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 277 

all effort, all longing after an Other, have passed away, 
for in it the Other has disappeared, there is no finitude 
in it, it is absolutely complete in itself, it is infinite and 
present in itself, there is nothing outside of it. It has in 
it no limit, for its nature is to be with itself, or at home 
with itself. It is not the act of rising to this necessity 
on the part of Spirit which in itself produces satisfaction. 
The satisfaction has reference to the goal Spirit tries to 
reach, and the satisfaction is in proportion to its ability 
to reach this goal. 

If we pause for a moment to consider this subjective 
satisfaction, we find that it reminds us of what the Greeks 
found in the idea of subjection to necessity. That Man 
should yield to inevitable destiny was the advice of the 
wise, and this was in particular the truth expressed by 
the tragic chorus, and we admire the repose of their 
heroes and the calmness with which they freely and 
undauntedly accept the lot which destiny has assigned 
to them. This necessity, and the aims of their own wills 
which are annihilated by it, the compulsory force of this 
destiny and freedom, appear as the opposing elements, 
and seem to leave no room for reconciliation nor for any 
kind of satisfaction. In fact the play of this antique 
necessity is shrouded in a sadness which is neither 
driven away by defiance nor disfigured by any feeling of 
bitterness, and all lamentation is rather suppressed by 
silence than stilled by the healing of the wounded heart. 
The element of satisfaction found by Spirit in the thought 
of necessity is to be sought for in this alone, that Spirit 
simply abides by that abstract result of necessity ex- 
pressed in the words, " it is so," a result brought about 
by Spirit within itself. In this pure is there is no 
longer any content ; all ends, all interests, all wishes, 
even the concrete feeling of life itself, have disappeared 
and vanished in it. Spirit produces this abstract result 
in itself just because it has given up this particular con- 
tent of its will, the very substance of its life, and has 



278 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

renounced everything. It thus transforms into freedom 
the compulsion exercised upon it by fatality. For this 
force or compulsion can lay hold of it only by seizing on 
those sides of its nature which in its concrete existence 
have an inner and an outer determinate Being. As 
connected with external existence, Man is under the 
influence of external force in the shape of other men, of 
circumstances, and so on ; but external existence has its 
roots in what is inward, in his impulses, interests, and 
aims ; they are the bonds, morally justifiable and morally 
ordained, or, it may be, not justifiable, which bring him 
into subjection to force. But the roots belong to his inner 
life, they are his ; he can tear them out of his heart ; 
his will, his freedom represent that power of abstraction 
from everything whereby the heart can make itself the 
grave of the heart. When the heart thus inwardly re- 
nounces itself, it leaves to force nothing upon which it 
can lay hold. What is crushed by force is a form of 
existence which is devoid of heart, an externality in 
which force can no longer affect Man : he is outside of 
the sphere in which force can strike. 

It has been previously remarked that the result, it is 
so, is the result of the necessity, to which Man clings ; and 
he abides by it as a result, that is, in the sense that it is 
he who produces this abstract Being. This is the other 
moment of necessity, mediation through the negation of 
otherness. This Other is the determinate in general, which 
we have seen in the form of inner existence, the giving 
up of concrete aims and interests ; for they are not only 
the ties which bind Man to externality, and consequently 
bring him into subjection to it, but they themselves 
represent the particular element, and are external to 
what is most inward, the self-thinking pure universality, 
the pure relation of freedom to itself. It is the strength 
of this freedom that it can in this abstract way comprise 
within itself and put within itself that particular ele- 
ment which is outside of itself, and can thus make it 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 279 

into something external in which it can no longer be 
disturbed. The reason why we men are unhappy, or 
unsatisfied, or simply fretful, is because of the division 
within us, that is, because of the contradiction represented 
by the fact that these impulses, aims, and interests, or 
simply these demands, wishes, and reflections are in us, 
and that at the same time our existence has in it what is 
the Other, the antithesis of these. This disunion or un- 
rest in us can be removed in a twofold manner. On the 
one hand, our outward existence, our condition, the cir- 
cumstances which affect us and in which our interests 
in general are involved, may be brought into harmony 
with the roots of their interests in ourselves, a harmony 
which is experienced in the form of happiness and satis- 
faction. On the other hand, in the event of there being 
a disunion between the two, and consequently in the 
event of unhappiness, instead of satisfaction there is a 
natural repose of the heart, or, where the injury goes 
deeper and affects an energetic will and its just claims, 
the heroic strength of the will produces at the same time 
a contentment by taking kindly to the actual state of 
things and by submitting to what actually is, and this is 
a yielding in which the mind does not in a one-sided way 
let go its hold on what is external, circumstances, or the 
actual condition of things, because they have been over- 
come and are overpowered, but which gives up by an 
act of its own will its inner determinateness and allows 
it to go. This freedom of abstraction is not without an 
element of pain ; but the pain is brought down to the level 
of natural pain, and has not in it the pain of penitence, 
the pain attaching to the rebellious sense of wrong-doing, 
just as it has no consolation or hope. But then it is not 
in need of consolation, for consolation presupposes a claim 
which is still maintained and asserted and does not in one 
way really satisfy, while looked at in another way, it seeks 
a compensation, and in the act of hoping, a desire for 
something has been kept in reserve. 



280 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

But it is just here that we find that moment of sad- 
ness already referred to, and which diffuses itself over 
this act, whereby necessity is transfigured and becomes 
freedom. The freedom here is the result of mediation 
through the negation of things finite. As abstract Being, 
the satisfaction gained is empty reference to self, the inner 
unsubstantial solitude of self-consciousness. 

This defect lies in the determinate character of the 
result as well as of the starting-point. It is the same 
in both of these, that is to say, it is just the indeter- 
minateness of Being. The same defect which has been 
noted as present in the form taken by the process of 
necessity, as this process exists in the region of the 
volition of subjective Spirit, will be found, too, in the 
process when it is an objective content for the thinking 
consciousness. The defect, however, does not lie in the 
nature of the process itself ; and we have now to consider 
that process in the theoretical form, which is the point 
we have specially to deal with. 



THIRTEENTH LECTURE 

THE general form of the process has been already 
referred to as consisting of a mediation with self which 
contains the moment of mediation in such a way that 
the Other is posited as something negated or ideal. This 
process has likewise been described, so far as its more 
definite moments are concerned, as it presents itself in 
the form of Man's elevation to God by the path of re- 
ligion. We have now to compare the explanation given 
of the act whereby Spirit raises itself to God with that to 
be found in the formal expression which is called a proof. 

The difference between them seems slight, but it is 
important, and supplies the reason why proof of this 
kind has been represented as inadequate and has gene- 
rally been abandoned. Because what is material is 
contingent, therefore there exists an absolutely necessary 
Essence ; this is the simple fashion in which the connec- 
tion of ideas is put. Since mention is here made of an 
Essence, and since we have spoken only of absolute 
necessity, this necessity may certainly be hypostatised 
in this way ; but the Essence is still indeterminate, and 
is not a subject or anything living, and still less is it 
Spirit. We shall, however, afterwards discuss the Essence 
as such in so far as it contains a determinate quality 
which has any interest in the- present connection. 

What is of primary importance is the relation indi- 
cated in the proposition : because the One, the contingent, 
exists, is, therefore the Other, the Absolutely-necessary, is, 
or exists. Here there are two forms of Being in connec- 
tion, one form of Being connected with another form of 
Being, a connection which we have seen in the shape of 



282 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

external necessity. It is, however, this very external 
necessity which is recognised to be a form of dependence 
in which the result depends on the starting-point, but 
which, in fact, by sinking to a state of contingency, is 
recognised to be unsatisfying. It is against it, accord- 
ingly, that the protests have been directed which have 
been advanced against this method of proof. 

It contains, that is to say, the relation according to 
which the one characteristic, that of absolutely necessary 
Being, is mediated by the Other, by means of the charac- 
teristic of contingent Being, whereby the former is put 
in a dependent relation, in the relation, in fact, of what 
is conditioned to its condition. This was the main ob- 
jection which, speaking generally, Jacobi brought against 
the knowledge of God, namely, that to know or to com- 
prehend means merely " to deduce anything from its 
more immediate causes, or to look at its immediate con- 
ditions as a series " (Letters on the Doctrine of Spinoza, 
p. 419); "to comprehend the Unconditioned therefore 
means to make it into something conditioned or to make 
it an effect." The latter category, however, according to 
which the Absolutely-necessary is taken as an effect, can 
be at once discounted, since the relation it implies is in 
too direct contradiction to the characteristic with which 
we are dealing, namely, the Absolutely-necessary. The 
relation of the condition, which is also that of the ground, 
is, however, of a more outward character, and can more 
easily find favour. In any case it is present in the 
proposition : because the contingent exists, therefore the 
Absolutely-necessary exists. 

While it must be granted that this defect exists, it 
is, on the other hand, to be observed that no objective 
significance is given to a relation like this implying 
conditionateness and dependence. This relation is present 
only in an absolutely subjective sense. The proposition 
does not state, and is not meant to state, that the Abso- 
lutely-necessary has conditions, and is in fact conditioned 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 283 

by the contingent world quite the contrary. The entire 
development of the connection is seen only in the act 
of proof. It is only our knowledge of the Absolutely- 
necessary which is conditioned by that starting-point. 
The Absolutely-necessary does not exist in virtue of the 
fact that it raises itself out of the world of contingency, 
and requires this world as its starting-point and presup- 
position, in order that by starting from it it may thus 
first reach its Being. It cannot be the Absolutely- 
necessary, it cannot be God who has to be thought of 
thus as something mediated by an Other, as something 
dependent and conditioned. It is the content of the 
proof itself which corrects the defect which is visible 
only in its form. We are thus in presence of a distinc- 
tion and a difference between the form and the nature of 
the content, and the form is more certainly seen to con- 
tain the defective element, from the very fact that the 
content is the Absolutely-necessary. This content is not 
itself devoid of form, as was evident from the nature of 
its determination. Its own form as being the form of 
the True is itself true, and the form which differs from 
it is for that reason the Untrue. 

If we take what we have in general designated Form, 
in its more concrete signification, namely, as knowledge, 
we find ourselves amongst the well-known and favourite 
categories of finite knowledge, which as being subjective 
is defined generally as finite, while the course followed by 
the movement of knowledge belonging to it is defined as 
a finite act. Here accordingly the same element of in- 
adequacy appears only in another shape. Knowledge is 
a finite act, and any such act cannot involve the com- 
prehension of the Absolutely-necessary, of the Infinite. 
Knowledge demands, in short, that it should have the 
content in itself and should follow it. The knowledge 
which has an absolutely necessary, infinite content must 
itself be absolutely necessary and infinite. We thus find 
ourselves in the best position for wrestling once more 



284 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

with the antithesis whose affirmative and subsidiary help 
given by what was more of the nature of immediate 
knowledge, faith, feeling, and such like, we dealt with 
in the first Lectures. We must for the present leave the 
Form in this shape alone, but later on we shall have 
some reflections to make on the categories belonging to 
it. We have in the meantime to deal with the Form in 
the more definite 'shape in which it appears in the proof 
which forms the subject of discussion. 

If we call to mind the formal syllogism previously 
dealt with, it will be seen that one part of the first 
proposition, the major proposition that is, runs thus If 
the contingent exists ; and this is expressed in a more 
direct way in the other proposition There is a contingent 
world. While in the former of these propositions the 
characteristic of contingency is posited essentially in its 
connection with the Absolutely-necessary, it is neverthe- 
less stated to be at the same time something contingent 
which has Being. It is in the second proposition, or in 
this characteristic of the existent as it appears in the 
first, that the defect lies, and this in fact means that it 
is directly self-contradictory, and shows itself to be in its 
very nature an untrue one-sidedness. The contingent, the 
finite is expressed in terms of what has Being ; but it is, 
on the contrary, characteristic of the finite that it should 
have an end and drop away, that it should be a kind of 
Being which has the value of what is merely a possibility 
and which may either be or not be. 

This fundamental error is found in the form of the 
connection, which is that of an ordinary syllogism. A 
syllogism of this kind has a permanent immediate element 
in its premisses, it is based on presuppositions which are 
stated to be not only what is primary, but to be the per- 
manent primary existent element with which the Other 
is in general so closely connected as some kind of con- 
sequence, something conditioned, and so on, that the two 
characteristics thus linked together constitute a relation 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 285 

which is external and finite, in which each of the two 
sides is in a relation of reference to the other. It con- 
stitutes one of the characteristics of these two sides, but 
it has at the same time a substantial existence of its 
own outside of the relation between them. The charac- 
teristic which the two different elements taken together 
constitute, and which is in itself simply one, is the 
Absolutely-necessary. Its name at once declares it to 
be the Only-one, what truly is, the only reality. "We 
have seen how its notion is the mediation which returns 
into itself, the mediation which is merely a mediation 
with itself by means of the Other which is distinguished 
from it, and which is taken up into the One, the Abso- 
lutely-necessary, negated as something having Being, and 
preserved merely as something ideal. Outside of this 
absolute, inherent unity, however, the two sides of the 
relation are in this kind of syllogism kept also externally 
apart from each other as things which have Being; the 
contingent is. This proposition is inherently self-contra- 
dictory, and is likewise in contradiction with the result, 
the absolute necessity, which is not merely placed on one 
side, but, on the contrary, is the whole of Being. 

If therefore we begin with the contingent, we must 
not set out from it as if it were something which is to 
remain fixed in such a way that it continues to be in the 
further development of the argument something which 
has Being. This is its one-sided determinateness. On 
the contrary, it is to be posited with its completely de- 
terminate character, which implies that non-Being may 
quite as well be attributed to it, and that it consequently 
enters into the result as something which passes away. 
Not because the contingent is, but, on the contrary, 
because it is non-Being, merely phenomenal, because its 
Being is not true reality, the absolute necessity is. This 
latter is its Being and Truth. 

This moment of the Negative is not found in the form 
taken by the syllogism of the Understanding, and this is 



286 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

why it is defective when it appears in this region which 
is that of the living reason of Spirit, in the region, that 
is, in which absolute necessity itself is considered as the 
true result, as something which does indeed mediate itself 
through an Other, but mediates itself with itself by ab- 
sorbing this Other. Thus the course followed by that 
knowledge of necessity is different from the process which 
necessity is. Such a course is therefore not to be con- 
sidered as simply necessary true movement, but rather 
as finite activity. It is not infinite knowledge, it has 
not the infinite for its content and for the basis of its 
activity, for the infinite appears only as this mediation 
with self through the negation of the negative. 

The defect which has been pointed out as existing in 
this form of the process of reasoning, means, as has been 
indicated, that the elevation of Spirit to God has not 
been correctly explained in that proof of the existence 
of God which it constitutes. If we compare the two we 
see that this act of elevation is undoubtedly also an act 
whereby Spirit goes beyond worldly existence, as well as 
beyond what is merely temporal, changeable, and transi- 
tory. The world-element, it is true, is declared to be 
actual existence, and we start from it ; but since, as was 
remarked, it is defined as the temporal, the contingent, 
the changeable and transitory, its Being is not satisfying 
for truth, it is not the truly affirmative, it is defined as 
what annuls and negates itself. It does not persistently 
retain its characteristic, to be ; on the contrary, a Being 
is attributed to it which has no more value than non- 
Being whose characteristic contains in itself its non- 
Being, its Other, and consequently its contradiction, its 
disintegration and dissolution. But even if it seem to 
be the case, or may even actually be the case, that so far 
as faith is concerned this contingent Being as something 
present to consciousness remains standing on one side 
confronting the other side, the Eternal, the Necessary 
in-and-for-itself, in the form of a world above which is 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 287 

heaven, still the real point is not the fact that a double 
world has been actually conceived of, but the value 
which is to be attached to such a conception. This 
value is expressed when it is said that the one world is 
the world of appearance or illusion, and the other the 
world of truth. When the former is abandoned, and we 
pass over to the other only in the sense that the world 
of appearance still remains present here, the connection 
between them as it presents itself to the religious man 
does not mean that that world is anything more than 
merely the point of departure, or that it is permanently 
fixed as a ground or basis to which Being, or the power 
of acting as a basis or condition, could be attributed. 
Satisfaction, everything in the way of a foundation or 
first principle is, on the contrary, found to exist in the 
eternal world as something which is independent in-and- 
for-itself. As opposed to this, in the form taken by the 
syllogism, the Being of both is expressed in a similar 
way both in the one proposition of the connection : If 
a contingent world exists, an Absolutely-necessary exists 
too ; as also in the other in which it is stated as a pre- 
supposition that a contingent world does exist ; and 
further, in the third and concluding proposition : There- 
fore an Absolutely-necessary exists. 

A few remarks may be further added regarding these 
propositions thus definitely expressed. And first of all 
in connection with the last of them, the way in which 
the two contrasted characteristics are linked together, 
must at once strike us : Therefore the Absolutely-neces- 
sary exists. Therefore expresses mediation through an 
Other, and yet it is immediacy, and directly absorbs the 
former of these characteristics, which, as has been indi- 
cated, is just what supplies the reason why such know- 
ledge regarding whatever is its object is declared to be 
inadmissible. The abolition of mediation through an 
Other exists, however, potentially only. The syllogism, 
on the other hand, as exhibited in detail, gives full 



288 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

expression to this. Truth is a force of such a character 
that it is present even in what is false, and it only 
requires correct observation and attention in order to 
discover the True in the False itself, or rather actually 
to see it there. The True is here mediation with self by 
the negation of the Other and of the mediation through 
the Other. The negation, both of mediation through an 
Other, as well as of the abstract immediacy which is 
devoid of mediation, is present in the " therefore " above 
referred to. 

Further, if the one proposition is : The contingent is, 
and the other : The necessary in-and-for-itself is, this 
essentially suggests that the Being of the contingent has 
an absolutely different value from necessary Being in-and- 
for-itself. Still Being is what is common to both, and it 
is the one characteristic in both propositions. In accord- 
ance with this the transition does not take the form of a 
passing from one form of Being to another, but from one 
characteristic of thought to another. Being purifies itself 
from the predicate of contingency, which is inadequate 
to express its nature. Being is simple self-identity or 
equality with self. Contingency, on the other hand, is 
Being which is absolutely unlike itself, which contradicts 
itself, and it is only in the Absolutely-necessary that it is 
once more restored to this condition of self-identity. It 
is accordingly here that the course thus followed by the 
act of elevation to God, or this aspect of the act of proof, 
differs more definitely from the others referred to, in this, 
namely, that in the former of the two methods of procedure 
the characteristic which has to be proved, or is supposed 
to result from the proof, is not Being. Being is rather 
what the two aspects have permanently in common and 
which is continued from the one into the other. In the 
other method of procedure, on the contrary, the transition 
has to be made from the notion or conception of God to 
His Being. This transition seems more difficult than 
that from a determinateness of content in general, what 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 289 

we are accustomed to call a notion or conception, to 
another conception, and to what is more homogeneous, 
therefore, than the transition from the notion to Being is 
apt to appear. 

The idea which lies at the basis of this is that Being 
is not itself a conception or thought. The proper place 
to consider it, in this antithesis in which it is exhibited 
as independent and isolated, will be when we come to 
deal with the proof referred to. Here, however, we have 
not, to begin with, to take it abstractly and independently. 
The fact that it is the element common to the two charac- 
teristics, the contingent and the Absolutely-necessary, sug- 
gests a comparison and an external separation between 
it and them, while at first it is in inseparable union with 
each, with contingent Being and absolutely necessary 
Being. In this way we shall once more take up the 
form of the proof already referred to, and bring out still 
more definitely the difference in the contradiction which 
it undergoes, regarded from the two opposite sides, the 
philosophical side, and that of the abstract understanding. 

The proposition indicated expresses the following con- 
nection 

Because contingent Being exists, therefore absolutely 
necessary Being exists. 

If we take this connection in its simple sense without 
characterising it more definitely by means of the category 
of a ground, or reason, or the like, its meaning is merely 
this 

Contingent Being is at the same time the Being of an 
Other, that of the absolutely necessary Being. 

This phrase " at the same time " seems to imply a con- 
tradiction, over against which the two contrasted proposi- 
tions are placed as solutions, of which the one is 

The Being of the contingent is not its own Being, but 
merely the Being of an Other, and in a definite sense it is 
the Being of its own Other, the Absolutely-necessary. And 
the other 

VOL. in. T 



290 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The Being of the contingent is merely its own Being, 
and is not the Being of an Other, of the Absolutely- 
necessary. 

It has been shown that the first of these propositions 
has the true meaning, which was also the meaning 
expressed by the idea contained in the transition. We 
shall take up further on the speculative or philosophical 
connection which is itself immanent in those determina- 
tions of thought which constitute contingency. 

The other proposition, however, is the proposition of 
the Understanding in which thinkers of modern times 
have so firmly intrenched themselves. What can be 
more reasonable than to hold that anything, any form 
of existence, and so, too, the contingent, since it is, is its 
own Being, is in fact just the definite Being which it is, 
and not rather an other kind of Being ! The contingent 
is in this way retained on its own account separately 
from the Absolutely-necessary. 

It is still easier to employ the characteristics finite 
and Infinite in order to express these two characteristics 
above mentioned, and thus to take the finite for itself, as 
isolated from its other, the Infinite. There is therefore, 
it is said, no bridge, no passage from finite Being to infinite 
Being. The finite is related only to itself, and not to its 
Other. The distinction which was made between know- 
ledge as form and knowledge as content, is an empty one. 
This very difference between the two was rightly made 
the basis of syllogisms, syllogisms which start with the 
hypothesis that knowledge is finite, and for this reason 
conclude that this knowledge cannot know the Infinite 
because it has not the power of comprehending it. Con- 
versely it is concluded that if knowledge did compre- 
hend the Infinite it would necessarily be infinite itself; 
but it is admittedly not infinite, therefore it has not the 
power of knowing the Infinite. Its action is defined just 
as its content is. Finite knowledge and infinite know- 
ledge yield the same kind of relation as is yielded by the 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 291 

finite and the Infinite in general. The only difference is 
that infinite knowledge is in a relation of stronger repul- 
sion towards its opposite than the naked Infinite, and 
points more directly to the separation of the two sides 
of the antithesis, so that one only remains, namely, finite 
knowledge. In this way all relation based on mediation 
disappears, every kind of relation, that is, in which the 
finite and the Infinite as such, and so, too, the contingent 
and the Absolutely-necessary, might have stood to each 
other. The form of finite and Infinite is the one which 
has come to be most in vogue in connection with this 
way of looking at the question. That form is more ab- 
stract, and accordingly seems more comprehensive, than 
the first-mentioned. 

The finite in general and finite knowledge have thus 
necessity directly ascribed to them over and above con- 
tingency. This necessity takes the form of continuous 
advance in the series of causes and effects, conditions and 
things conditioned, and was formerly described as external 
necessity, and was included in the finite as forming a 
part of it. It can be understood, indeed, only in refer- 
ence to knowledge, but when included in the finite it is 
put in contrast with the Infinite without risk of the mis- 
apprehension which might arise through the employment 
of the category of the Absolutely-necessary. 

If, accordingly, we keep to this expression, then the 
relation of finitude and infinitude at which we stop short 
will be that of their absence of relation, their absence of 
reference. We have reached the position that the finite 
as a whole and finite knowledge are incapable of grasping 
the Infinite in general, as well as the Infinite in the form 
it takes as absolute necessity, and also of comprehending 
the Infinite by the aid of the conceptions of contingency 
and finitude from which finite knowledge starts. Finite 
knowledge is accordingly finite just because it is based 
on finite conceptions ; and the finite, including also finite 
knowledge, stands in relation to itself only, does not go 



292 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

beyond itself, because it is its own Being, and not in any 
sense the Being of an Other, and, least of all, the Being 
of its own Other. This is the proposition upon which so 
much reliance is placed. It supplies no way of passing 
from the finite to the Infinite, nor from the contingent to 
the Absolutely-necessary, nor from effects to an absolutely 
first non-finite cause. A gulf is simply fixed between 
them. 



FOURTEENTH LECTURE 

THIS dogmatic view of the absolute separation between the 
finite and the Infinite has to do with Logic. It involves 
an opinion regarding the nature of the conceptions of the 
finite and the Infinite which is treated of in Logic. Here 
\ve shall confine ourselves chiefly to those characteristics 
which we have partly dealt with in the preceding Lectures, 
but which are also found in our own consciousness. The 
characteristics which belong to the nature of the concep- 
tions themselves, and which have been exhibited in the 
Logic in their own pure determinateness and in that of 
their connection, must show themselves and be present 
in our ordinary consciousness as well. 

When, therefore, it is said that the Being of the finite 
is only its own Being, and is in no sense the Being of an 
Other, it is thereby declared that there is no possible way 
of passing from, the finite to the Infinite, and therefore 
no mediation between them, neither in themselves nor in 
and for knowledge, so that, although the finite is mediated 
through the Infinite, still the converse is not true, which 
is just the real point of interest. Appeal is thus already 
made to the fact that the Spirit of Man rises out of the 
contingent, the temporal, the finite, to God as representing 
the Absolutely-necessary, the Eternal, the Infinite, to the 
fact that the so-called gulf does not exist for Spirit, and 
that it really accomplishes the transition, and that the 
heart of Man, spite of the Understanding which asserts 
the existence of this absolute separation, will not admit 
that there is any such gulf, but, on the contrary, actually 
makes the transition from the finite to the Infinite in the 

act of rising to God. 

293 



294 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

The ready reply to this, however, is that if you grant 
the fact of this rising to God, there is certainly an act of 
transition on the part of Spirit, but not of Spirit in itself, 
not a transition in the conceptions, or indeed in any 
sense of the conceptions themselves ; and the reason of 
this just is that in the conception as here understood, 
the Being of the finite is its own Being and not the 
Being of an Other. When we thus regard finite Being 
as standing in relation to itself only, it is merely for itself, 
and is not Being for an Other. It is consequently taken 
out of the region of change, is unchangeable and absolute. 
This is how the matter stands with these so-called con- 
ceptions. Those, however, who assert the impossibility 
of any such transition will not admit that the finite is 
absolute, unchangeable, imperishable, and eternal. If 
the error involved in taking the finite as absolute were 
merely an error of the Schools, an illogical result the 
blame of which is to be put on the Understanding ; if it 
were to be regarded, in fact, as belonging to those abstrac- 
tions of an extreme kind with which we have got to do 
here, then we might very well ask if an error of this sort 
really mattered much since we might certainly regard 
these abstractions as of no account compared with the 
fulness of spiritual life found in religion, which, more- 
over, constitutes the great and really living interest of 
Spirit. But that it is exclusively the finite which con- 
stitutes the true interest amongst these so-called great 
and living interests, is only too evident from the atten- 
tion paid to religion itself, in connection with which, and as 
a consequence of the fundamental principle referred to an 
amount of study has been bestowed on the history of the 
finite materials of the subject, on the history of external 
events and opinions far beyond that given to the infinite 
element, which has been confessedly reduced to a minimum. 
It is by the employment of thoughts and of these abstract 
categories of finite and Infinite that the renunciation of 
the knowledge of truth is supposed to be justified, and 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 295 

as a matter of fact it is in the region of pure thought 
that all these interests of Spirit have free play, in order 
that they may there have their real nature decided, for 
thoughts constitute the really inner substantiality of the 
concrete reality of Spirit. 

But suppose we leave this conception of the Under- 
standing, and its assertion that the Being of the finite is 
only its own Being, and not the Being of an Other, not 
transition itself, and take up the further idea which 
emphasises the element of knowledge. If it is agreed 
that Spirit does actually make this transition, then the 
fact of this transition is not a fact of knowledge, but of 
Spirit in general, and in a definite sense of faith. It has 
been sufficiently proved that this act of elevation to God, 
whether seen in feeling or in faith, or however you choose 
to define the mode of its spiritual existence, takes place 
in the inmost part of Spirit, in the region of thought. 
Religion as representing what concerns the innermost 
part of Man's nature has its centre and the root of its 
movement in thought. God in His Essence is thought, 
the act of thought itself, just as the ordinary representa- 
tion of Him and the shape given to Him in the mind, 
as well as the form and mode in which religion ap- 
pears, are defined as feeling, intuition, faith, and so on. 
Knowledge, however, does nothing beyond bringing this 
inward element into consciousness on its own account, 
beyond forming a conception of that pulsation cf 
thought in terms of thought. In this, knowledge may 
appear one-sided, and it may appear all the more as if 
feeling, intuition, and faith essentially belonged to religion, 
and were more closely connected with God than His 
thinking notion and His notion as expressed in thought ; 
but this inner element is present here, and thought just 
consists in getting a knowledge of it, and rational know- 
ledge in general just means that we know a thing in its 
essential determinateness. 

To have rational knowledge or cognition, to compre- 



296 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

hend or grasp in thought, are terms which, like 
" immediate " and " faith," belong to present-day cul- 
ture. They have the authority of a preconceived idea 
which has a twofold character. On the one hand, there 
is the fact that they are absolutely familiar, and are con- 
sequently final categories regarding whose signification 
and verification there is no need to inquire further. On 
the other hand, there is the fact that the inability of 
reason to comprehend and know the True and the Infinite 
is something settled quite as much as their general mean- 
ing is. The words, to know or cognise, to comprehend 
or grasp in thought, have the value of a magical formula. 
It never occurs to those under the influence of this pre- 
conceived idea to ask what the expressions to know, to 
grasp in thought, mean, or to get a clear idea of them, 
and yet that would be the sole and only point of im- 
portance if we were to say something that was really 
pertinent regarding the main question. In any such 
investigation it would be evident of itself that knowledge 
merely expresses the fact of the transition which Spirit 
itself makes, and in so far as knowledge is true know- 
ledge or comprehension it is a consciousness of the neces- 
sity which is contained in the transition itself, and is 
nothing save the act of forming a conception of this 
characteristic which is immanent and present in it. 

But if, so far as the fact of the transition from the 
finite to the Infinite is concerned, it is replied that this 
transition takes place in the spirit, or in faith, feeling, 
and the like, such an answer would not be the whole 
answer, which rather essentially takes the following form. 
Religious belief, or feeling, inner revelation, means that 
we have an immediate knowledge of God which is not 
reached by mediation. It means that the transition does 
not consist of an essential connection between the two 
sides, but is made in the form of a leap from one to the 
other. What we would call a transition is broken up 
in this way into two separate acts which are outwardly 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 297 

opposed, and follow each other in succession of time only, 
and are related to each other by being compared or re- 
called. The finite and the Infinite simply keep in this 
condition of separation, and this being presupposed, 
Spirit occupies itself with the finite in a particular way ; 
and in occupying itself with the Infinite in the way of 
feeling, faith, knowledge, it performs a separate, immedi- 
ate and simple action not an act of transition. Just as 
the finite and the Infinite are without relation to each 
other, so, too, the acts of Spirit by which it fills itself 
with these characteristics, and fills itself either with the 
one or the other, have no relation to each other. Even 
if they happen to exist contemporaneously, so that the 
finite is found in consciousness along with the Infinite, 
they are merely mixed together. They are two inde- 
pendent forms of activity which do not enter into any 
relation of mediation with each other. 

The repetition which is involved in this conception of 
the ordinary division of the finite and the Infinite has 
already been referred to that separation by which the 
finite is put on one side in an independent form, and the 
Infinite on the other in contrast with it, while the former 
is not the less asserted in this way to be absolute. This 
is the dualism which, put in a more definite form, is 
Manicheism. But even those who maintain the existence 
of such a relation will not admit that the finite is abso- 
lute, and yet they cannot escape the conclusion which 
does not merely flow from the statement referred to, but 
is just this very statement itself, that the finite has no 
connection with the Infinite, that there is no possible 
way of passing from the one to the other, but that the 
one is absolutely distinct from the other. But even if 
a relation is conceived of as actually existing, it is, owing 
to the admitted incompatibility between them, a relation 
of a merely negative kind. The Infinite is thought of as 
the True and the only Affirmative, that is, the abstract 
Affirmative, so that its relation to the finite is that of a 



298 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

force in which the finite is annihilated. The finite, in 
order to be, must keep out of the way of the Infinite, 
must flee from it. If it comes into contact with it, it 
can only perish. As regards the subjective existence of 
these characteristics with which we are dealing, as repre- 
sented, namely, by finite and infinite knowledge, we find 
that the one side, that of infinitude, is the immediate 
knowledge of Man by God. The entire other side, again, 
is Man in general ; it is he who is the finite about which 
we are chiefly concerned, and it is just this knowledge of 
God on his part, whether it is called immediate or not, 
which is his Being, his finite knowledge, and the transi- 
tion from it to the Infinite. If, accordingly, the manner 
in which Spirit deals with the finite, and that in which 
it deals with the Infinite, are supposed to represent two 
different forms of activity, then the latter form of activity 
as representing the elevation of Spirit to God would not 
be the immanent transition referred to ; and when Spirit 
occupied itself with the finite it would in turn do this in 
an absolute way, and be entirely confined to the finite 
as such. This point would allow of being dealt with at 
great length, but it may be sufficient here to remember 
that, although the finite is the object and the end dealt 
with by this side, it can occupy itself with it in a true 
way, whether in the form of cognition, knowledge, opinion, 
or in a practical and moral fashion, only in so far as the 
finite is not taken for itself, but is known, recognised, 
and its existence affirmed in connection with the relation 
in which it stands to the Infinite, to the Infinite in it, in 
so far, in fact, as it is an object and an end in connection 
with this latter category. It is well enough known what 
place is given to the religious element both in the case 
of individuals and even in religions themselves, and how 
this religious element in the form of devotion, contrition 
of heart and spirit, and the giving of offerings, comes to 
be regarded as a matter apart with which we can occupy 
ourselves and then have done with ; while the secular life, 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 299 

the sphere of finitude, exists alongside of it, and gives itself 
up to the pursuit of its own ends, and is left to its own 
interests without any influence being exercised upon it by 
the Infinite, the Eternal, and the True that is, without 
there being any passing over into the Infinite within the 
sphere of the finite, without the finite coming to truth 
and morality by the mediation of the Infinite, and so, 
too, without the Infinite being brought into the region of 
present reality through the mediation of the finite. We 
do not require here to enter upon the consideration of 
the lame conclusion that the one who has knowledge, 
namely, Man, must be absolute in order to comprehend 
the Absolute, because the same thing applies to faith or 
immediate knowledge as being also an inner act of com- 
prehension, if not of the absolute Spirit of God, at all 
events of the Infinite. If this knowledge is so afraid of 
the concrete element in its object, then this object must 
at least have some meaning for it. It is really the non- 
concrete which has few characteristics or none at all, 
that is the abstract, the negative, what is least of all, 
the Infinite in short. 

But then it is just by means of this miserable abstrac- 
tion of the Infinite that ordinary thought repels the 
attempt to comprehend the Infinite, and for the simple 
reason that the present and actual Man, the human 
spirit, human reason, is definitely opposed to the Infinite 
in the form of a fixed abstraction of the finite. Ordinary 
thought would more readily allow that the human spirit, 
thought, or reason, can comprehend the Absolutely-neces- 
sary, for this latter is thus directly declared and stated 
to be the negative as opposed to its Other, namely, the 
contingent, which has on its part a necessity too, external 
necessity that is. "What accordingly can be clearer than 
that Man, who moreover is, that is to say, is something 
positive or affirmative, cannot comprehend his negative ? 
And conversely, is it not still more clear that since his 
Being, his affirmation, is finitude, and therefore negation, 



3co THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

it cannot comprehend infinitude, which, as opposed to 
finitude, is equally negation but in the reverse way, since 
it is Being, affirmation in contrast with the characteristic 
attached to finitude ? What then can be clearer than 
that finitude comes to Man from both sides ? He can 
comprehend a few feet of space, yet outside of this 
volume there lies the infinitude of space. He possesses 
a span of infinite time, which in the same way shrinks 
up into a moment as compared with this infinite time, 
just as his volume of space shrinks up into a point. But 
considered apart from this outward finitude which charac- 
terises him in contrast with those infinite externalities, 
he is intelligence, is able to perceive, to form ideas, to 
know, to have cognition of things. The object on which 
he exercises his intelligence is the world, this aggregate 
of infinite particular things. How small is the number 
of these known by individual men it is not Man who 
knows but the individual as compared with the infinite 
mass which actually exists. In order clearly to realise 
the paltry nature of human knowledge, we have only to 
remember a fact which cannot be denied, and which we 
are accustomed to describe as divine Omniscience, and to 
put it in the fashion in which it is expressed by the 

organist in L , in a funeral sermon reported in " The 

Courses of Life on Ascending Lines " (Part II., Supple- 
ment B.) to mention once more a work marked by 
humour of the highest kind : " Neighbour Brise was 
speaking to me yesterday about the greatness of the 
good God, and the idea came into my head that the 
good God knew how to name every sparrow, every 
goldfinch, every wren, every mite, every midge, just as 
you call the people in the village, Schmied's Gregory, 
Briefen's Peter, Heifried's Hans. Just think how the 
good God can call to every one of these midges which 
are so like each other that you would swear they were 
all sisters and brothers just think of it!" But as 
compared with practical finitude the theoretical element 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 301 

at least appears great and wide ; and yet how thoroughly 
we realise what human limitation is, when these aims, 
and plans, and wishes, and all that so long as it is in the 
mind has no limits, are brought into contact with the 
reality for which they are intended. All that wide 
extent of practical imagination, all that endeavour, that 
aspiration, reveals its narrowness by the very fact that it 
is only endeavour, only aspiration. It is this finitude 
with which the attempt to form a conception of the In- 
finite, to comprehend it, is confronted. The critical Under- 
standing which holds by this principle, supposed to be so 
convincing, has really not got beyond the stage of culture 

occupied by that organist in L , has in fact not even 

attained to it. The organist used the pictorial idea 
referred to in the simplicity of his heart, in order to 
bring the idea of the greatness of God's love before a 
peasant community. The critical Understanding, on the 
other hand, employs finite things in order to bring objec- 
tion against God's love and God's greatness, that is to say, 
against God's presence in the human spirit. This Under- 
standing keeps firmly in its mind the midge of fmitude, 
that proposition already considered the finite is, a pro- 
position the falseness of which is directly evident, for 
the finite is something the essential character and nature 
of which consist just in this that it passes away, that it 
is not, so that it is impossible to think of the finite or 
form an idea of it apart from the determination of Not- 
Being, which is involved in the thought of what is 
transient. Who has got the length of saying, the finite 
passes away ? If the idea of Now is inserted between 
the finite and its passing away, and if in this way a kind 
of permanence is supposed to be given to Being "the 
finite passes away, but it is now " then this Now itself 
is something which not only passes away, but has itself 
actually passed away, since it is. The very fact that I 
have this consciousness of the Now, and have put it into 
words, shows that it is no longer Now, but something 



302 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

different. It lasts, it is true, but not as this particular 
Now, and Now can only mean this actual Now, in this par- 
ticular moment, something without length, a mere point. 
It continues, in fact, only as being the negation of this 
particular Now, as the negation of the finite, and conse- 
quently as the Infinite, the Universal. The Universal 
is already infinite. That respect for the Infinite which 
keeps the Understanding from finding the Infinite in 
every Universal ought to be called a silly respect. The 
Infinite is lofty and majestic, but to place its grandeur 
and majesty in that countless swarm of midges, and to 
find the infinitude of knowledge in the knowledge of 
those countless midges, that is, of the individual midges, 
is a proof of the impotence, not of faith, of Spirit, or of 
reason, but of the Understanding to conceive of the finite 
as a nullity, and of its Being as something which has 
equally the value and signification which belong to Not- 
Being. 

Spirit is immortal ; it is eternal ; and it is immortal 
and eternal in virtue of the fact that it is infinite, that it 
has no such spatial finitude as we associate with the body 
when we speak of it being five feet in height, two feet in 
breadth and thickness, that it is not the Now of time, 
that the content of its knowledge does not consist of 
these countless midges, that its volition and freedom have 
not to do with the infinite mass of existing obstacles, nor 
of the aims and activities which such resisting obstacles 
and hindrances have to encounter. The infinitude of Spirit 
is its inwardness, in an abstract sense its pure inwardness, 
and this is its thought, and this abstract thought is a real, 
present infinitude, while its concrete inwardness consists 
in the fact that this thought is Spirit. 

Thus, after starting with the absolute separation of 
the two sides, we have come back to their connection, and 
it makes no difference whether this connection is repre- 
sented as existing in the subjective or objective sphere. 
The only question is as to whether it has been correctly 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 303 

conceived of. In so far as it is represented as merely 
subjective, as a proof only for us, it is of course granted 
that it is not objective and has not been correctly con- 
ceived of in-and-for-itself. But, then, what is incorrect 
in it is not to be looked for in the fact that there is no such 
connection at all, that is to say, that there is no such 
thing as the elevation of Spirit to God. 

The real point, therefore, would be the consideration 
of this connection in its determinateness. The considera- 
tion of it in this way is a matter at once of the deepest 
and most elevated kind, and just because of this it is the 
most difficult of tasks. You cannot carry it on by means 
of finite categories ; that is, the modes of thought which 
we employ in ordinary life and in dealing with contingent 
things, as well as those we are accustomed to in the 
sciences, don't suffice for it. The latter have their founda- 
tion, their logic, in connections which belong to what is 
finite, sucli as cause and effect ; their laws, their descriptive 
terms, their modes of arguing, are purely relations belong- 
ing to what is conditioned, and which lose their significance 
in the heights where the Infinite is. They must indeed 
be employed, but at the same time they have always to 
be referred back to their proper sphere and have their 
meaning rectified. The fact of the fellowship of God 
and Man with each other involves a fellowship of Spirit 
with Spirit. It involves the most important questions. 
It is a fellowship, and this very circumstance involves 
the difficulty of at once maintaining the fact of difference 
and of defining it in such a way as to preserve the fact 
of fellowship. That Man knows God implies, in accord- 
ance with the essential idea of communion or fellowship, 
that there is a community of knowledge ; that is to say, 
Man knows God only in so far as God Himself knows 
Himself in Man. This knowledge is God's self-conscious- 
ness, but it is at the same time a knowledge of God on 
the part of Man, and this knowledge of God by Man is a 
knowledge of Man by God. The Spirit of Man, whereby 



304 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

he knows God, is simply the Spirit of God Himself. It 
is at this stage that the questions regarding the freedom 
of Man, the union of his individual consciousness and 
knowledge with the knowledge which brings him into 
fellowship with God, and the knowledge of God in him, 
come to be discussed. This wealth of relationship which 
exists between the human spirit and God is not, how- 
ever, our subject. We have to take up this relationship 
only in its most abstract aspect, that is to say, in the form 
of the connection of the finite with the Infinite. However 
strong the contrast between the poverty of this connection 
and the wealth of the content referred to may seem, still 
the logical relation is at the same time also the basis of 
the movement of that fulness of content. 



FIFTEENTH LECTURE 

THE connection between these forms of thought referred 
to which constitutes the entire content of the Proof 
under discussion, has already been examined in the fore- 
going Lectures. That this connection does not correspond 
to the results supposed to be reached in the Proof, is a 
point to be thoroughly discussed afterwards. The pecu- 
liarly speculative aspect of the connection, however, still 
remains to be considered, and we have here to indicate, 
without entering upon this logical examination in detail, 
what characteristic of this connection has reference to 
this speculative aspect. The moment to which attention 
has mainly to be directed in reference to this connection, 
is the fact that it is a transition, that is to say, the point of 
departure has here the characteristic quality of something 
negative, has the character of contingent Being, of what 
is a phenomenon or an appearance only, which has its 
truth in the Absolutely-necessary, in the truly affirmative 
element in this latter. As regards, first of all, the former 
of these characteristics, the negative moment namely, 
if we are to get a philosophical grasp of it, all that is 
necessary is that it be not taken as representing mere 
Nothing. It does riot exist in any such abstract form, 
but, on the contrary, is merely a moment in the contin- 
gency of the world. There ought accordingly to be no 
difficulty in not taking the negative as abstract Nothing. 
The popular idea of contingency, limitation, finitude, phe- 
nomenon, involves the idea of definite Being, of definite 
existence, but at the same time it substantially involves 
negation. Ordinary thought is more concrete and true 
than the Understanding which abstracts, and which when 
VOL. in. 3 5 u 



3o6 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

it hears of a negative too easily makes Nothing out 
of it, pure Nothing, Nothing as such, and gives up all 
thought of its being in any way connected with existence 
in so far as existence is defined as contingent, pheno- 
menal, and so on. Keflective analysis points to the two 
moments which exist in a content of this kind namely, 
an affirmative, definite Being, existence as one particular 
form of Being ; but a moment also which involves the 
quality of finality, mortality, limits, and so on, in the 
form of negation. Thought, if it is to form a conception 
of the contingent, cannot allow these moments to be 
separated into a Nothing for itself and a Being for itself. 
For they do not exist in this form in the contingent; 
on the contrary, it comprises both in itself. They are 
therefore not to be taken as existing each by itself in 
connection with one another, nor is the contingent to be 
taken just as it is, as representing the connection between 
them. This then is the speculative determination. It 
remains true to the content of ordinary thought or con- 
ception, while, on the contrary, this content escapes 
abstract thought which asserts the independence of the 
two moments. It has resolved into its parts the contin- 
gent, which is the object of the Understanding. 

The contingent accordingly, as thus defined, represents 
what is a contradiction in itself. What thus resolves 
itself becomes in consequence just exactly what it be- 
came in the hands of the Understanding. But resolu- 
tion is of two sorts. The resolution effected by the. 
Understanding results simply in the disappearance of the 
object, of the concrete union ; while in the other kind of 
resolution the object is preserved. Still this preservation 
does not help it much, or not at all, for in being thus 
preserved it is defined as a contradiction, and contradic- 
tion dissolves itself ; what contradicts itself is Nothing. 
However correct this may be, it is at the same time 
incorrect. Contradiction and Nothing are at all events 
distinct from one another. Contradiction is concrete, it 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 307 

at least has a content, it at least contains things which 
contradict themselves ; it at least gives expression to them, 
it declares what it is a contradiction of: Nothing, on the 
contrary, does not express anything at all, it is devoid of 
content, it is the absolutely empty. This concrete quality 
of the one and the absolutely abstract quality of the other 
constitute a very important difference. Further, Nothing 
is in no sense contradiction. Nothing does not contra- 
dict itself, it is identical with itself; it accordingly fulfils 
perfectly the conditions of the logical proposition that a 
thing should not contradict itself or if this proposition is 
expressed thus, Nothing ought to contradict itself, this is 
an ought which has no result, for Nothing does not do what 
it ought, that is, it does not contradict itself. If, how- 
ever, it is put in the way of a thesis thus Nothing 
which exists contradicts itself, then it is plainly correct, 
for the subject of this proposition is a Nothing which at 
the same time is, but Nothing itself as such is merely 
simple, the one characteristic which is equivalent to 
itself, which does not contradict itself. 

Thus, the cancelling or solution of the contradiction 
in Nothing, as given by the Understanding, moves in 
vacua, or, more accurately, in contradiction itself, which 
in virtue of a solution of this kind declares itself in fact 
to be still in existence, to be unsolved. The reason why 
the contradiction is still uncancelled is just that the 
content, the contingent, is first posited only in its nega- 
tion in itself, and not yet in the affirmation which must 
be contained in this cancelling since it is not abstract 
Nothing. Even the contingent is certainly, to begin with, 
as it presents itself to the ordinary thought, an affirma- 
tive. It represents definite Being, existence ; it is the 
world, affirmation, Reality, or however you like to term it, 
and it is this enough and to spare ; but as such it is not 
yet posited in its solution, not given in the explication 
of its content and substance, and it is just this content 
which is meant to lead to its truth, namely, the Abso- 



308 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

lutely-necessary. It is the contingent itself in which, as 
was said, the finitude, the limitation of the world has 
been indicated in order that it may itself directly point 
to its solution, that is, in accordance with the negative 
side already indicated. And further, the analysis or 
resolution of this contingent which is posited as already 
resolved in the contradiction, is seen to be the affirma- 
tive which is contained in it. This resolution has been 
already referred to. It was got and adopted from the 
idea formed by the human mind as representing the 
transition of Spirit from the contingent to the Absolutely- 
necessary, which in accordance with this would itself be 
this very affirmative, the resolution of that first and 
merely negative resolution. So, too, to indicate the 
speculative element in this final and most inner point 
would simply mean to put in a completely connected 
form the thoughts which are already contained in the 
conception we are dealing with, namely, in that first 
resolution. The Understanding which conceived of it 
merely as contradiction which resolves itself into No- 
thing, takes up only one of the two moments contained 
in it, and leaves the other alone. 

As a matter of fact the concrete result in its unfolded 
shape, that is, its speculative form, has been already 
brought under our notice, and that long ago, namely, in 
the definition which was given of absolute necessity. In 
that connection, however, an external kind of reflection 
and style of argument was employed in reference to the 
moments which belong to this necessity or from which 
it results. What we have got to do here is merely to 
call attention to those moments which are found in what 
we have seen to be the contradiction which is the resolu- 
tion of the contingent. In absolute necessity what we 
found first of all was the moment of mediation, and, to 
begin with, of mediation through an Other. The analysis 
of the contingent directly shows that the moments of this 
mediation are Being in general, or material existence, and 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 309 

the negation of this, whereby it is degraded to the state 
of something which has a semblance of Being, something 
which is virtually a nullity. Each moment is not isolated 
and taken by itself, but is thought of as attaching to the 
one characteristic, namely, to the contingent, and as exist- 
ing purely in relation to the Other, as having any mean- 
ing only in this relation. This one characteristic, which 
holds them together, is what mediates them. In it, it is 
true, the one exists by means of the other ; but then each 
can exist for itself outside of their connection, and each 
ought, in fact, to exist for itself, Being for itself and 
negation for itself. If, however, we call the former 
Being as it appears in the more concrete shape in which 
we have it here, namely, as material existence, we practi- 
cally grant that this material existence is not for itself, is 
not absolute or eternal, but is, on the contrary, virtually 
a nullity which has indeed a Being, but not an inde- 
pendent Being, a Being-for-self, for it is just this Being 
possessed by it which is characterised as something con- 
tingent. Since, accordingly, in the case of contingency 
each of the two characteristics exists only in relation to 
the other, this mediation between them appears to be 
contingent itself, to be merely isolated, and to be found 
only in this particular place. The unsatisfactory thing 
is that the characteristics can be taken for themselves, 
that is to say, as they themselves are as such, and as 
related only to themselves, and therefore immediately and 
thus as not mediated in themselves. Mediation is conse- 
quently something which happens to them in a merely 
outward way, and is itself contingent ; that is, the pecu- 
liar inner necessity of contingency is not demonstrated. 

This reflection consequently leads up to the necessity 
of the starting-point in itself which we took as something 
given, as a starting-point in fact. It leads up not to the 
transition from the contingent to the necessary, but to 
the transition which is implicitly contained in the con- 
tingent itself, to the transition from one of each of the 



3 io THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

moments which constitute the contingent, to its Other. 
This would bring us back to the analysis of the first ab- 
stract, logical moments, and it is sufficient here to regard 
contingency as the act of transition in itself, as its can- 
celling of itself or annulling of itself, as this is ordinarily 
conceived of. 

In the resolution of contingency just described, there 
is at the same time indicated the second moment, that 
of absolute necessity, that is, the moment of mediation 
with self. The moments of contingency are, to begin 
with, in a relation of antithesis to each other, and each is 
posited as mediated by its antithesis or Other. In the 
unity of the two, however, each is something negated, 
and their difference is consequently done away with, and 
although we still speak of one of the two, it is no longer 
related to something different from it, but to itself; we 
have thus mediation with self. 

The speculative way of looking at this accordingly 
implies that the contingent is known in itself in so far 
as it is resolved into its parts, and this resolution at first 
takes the form of an external analysis of this character- 
istic. It is, however, not merely this, but is really the 
resolution of that characteristic in itself. The contingent 
is by its very nature that which resolves itself, disinte- 
grates itself, it is transition in itself. But, in the second 
place, this resolution is not the abstraction of Nothing, but 
is rather affirmation within the resolution, that affirmation 
which we call absolute necessity. It is thus that we 
form a philosophical conception of this transition. The 
result is shown to be immanent in the contingent, i.e., it 
is the very nature of the contingent to revert back to its 
truth, and the elevation of our spirit to God in so far as 
we have provisionally no further definition of God than 
the description of Him as Absolute Being, or because we 
for the present rest satisfied with it is the course of 
development followed by this movement of the Thing or 
true fact. It is this Thin" or true fact in-and-for-itself 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 311 

which is the impelling power in us, and which gives the 
impulse to this movement. 

It has been already remarked that for the consciousness 
to which the determinations of thought do not present 
themselves in this pure speculative form, and conse- 
quently not in their self-solution and self- movement, but 
which represents them to itself by general ideas, the 
transition is rendered more easy by the fact that the 
thing from which we start, namely, the contingent, 
already means something which resolves itself, which 
passes over into its Other. In this way the connec- 
tion between that from which the start is made and the 
point ultimately reached, is made absolutely clear. This 
starting-point is consequently the one which is most 
advantageous for consciousness, and the one which is 
most in accordance with an end. It is the instinct of 
thought which implicitly makes this transition, which 
is the essential fact or Thing, but at the same time this 
instinct brings it into consciousness in the form of a 
determination of thought, of such a kind that it appears 
easy for it to represent it as a general idea merely, that 
is, in the form of abstract identity. When the world, in 
fact, is defined as the contingent, this means that refer- 
ence is made to its Not- Being, while it is hinted that its 
truth is its Other or antithesis. 

The transition is rendered intelligible by the fact that 
it is not only implicitly contained in the starting-point, 
but that this latter directly suggests the transition, that 
is, this characteristic is also posited and is therefore in 
it. In this way its determinate existence is something 
given for consciousness, which makes use of ordinary 
ideas just in so far as it has to do with immediate 
existence, which is here a determination or quality of 
thought. Equally intelligible is the result, the Abso- 
lutely-necessary ; it contains mediation, and it is just 
this understanding of the connection in general which 
passes for being the easiest possible, a connection which 



312 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

in a finite way is taken as the connection of the one with 
an Other, but which, on the other hand, carries its correc- 
tive with it in so far as this connection issues in an 
insufficient end. A connection of this kind, owing to 
the fact that the law which governs it constantly requires 
that it should repeat itself in the matter which composes 
it, always lead up to an Other, that is, to a negative, 
while the affirmative which reappears in this act of 
development is simply something which issues from it- 
self, and thus the one as well as the Other finds no rest, 
and no satisfaction. The Absolutely-necessary, again, 
since regarded from one point of view it itself produces 
that connection, is something which can also break off the 
connection, bring back into itself this going out of itself 
and secure the final result. The Absolutely-necessary is, 
because it is; thus that Other and the act of going out 
towards that Other are set aside, and by this unconscious 
inconsequence satisfaction is secured. 



SIXTEENTH LECTURE 

THE foregoing Lectures have dealt with the dialectical 
element, with the absolute fluidity, of the characteristics 
that enter into the movement which represents this first 
form of the elevation of the spirit to God. We have 
now further to deal with the result in itself as defined 
in accordance with the standpoint adopted. 

This result is the absolutely necessary Essence. The 
meaning of a result is known to consist simply in this, 
that in it the determination of the mediation, and conse- 
quently of the result, has been absorbed in something 
higher. The mediation was the self-annulling of the 
mediation. Essence means what is as yet absolutely 
abstract self- identity ; it is not subject, and still less is it 
Spirit. The entire determination is found in absolute 
necessity, which in its character as Being is at the same 
time what has immediate Being, and which, as a matter 
of fact, implicitly determines itself as subject, but at first 
in the purely superficial form of something having Being, 
in the form of the Absolutely-necessary. 

The fact that this determination is not adequate to 
express our idea of God is a defect which we may in the 
meantime leave alone, inasmuch as it has been already 
indicated that the other proofs bring with them further 
and more concrete determinations. There are, however, 
religious and philosophical systems whose defectiveness 
consists just in this, that they have not got beyond the 
characteristic of absolute necessity. The consideration 
of the more concrete forms in which this principle has 
embodied itself in religion, belongs to the philosophy of 
religion and to the history of religion. Regarding the 

313 



3U THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

subject in this aspect, it may here be merely remarked that 
in general those religions which have this determinateness 
as their basis have, so far as the inner logical development 
of concrete Spirit is concerned, richer and more varied 
elements than any which the abstract principle at first 
brings with it. In the sphere of phenomena and in con- 
sciousness the other moments of the Idea in its full and 
completed form, are superadded in a way which is inconsis- 
tent with that abstract principle. It is, however, essential 
to find out whether these additions in the way of definite 
form belong merely to imagination, and whether the con- 
crete in its inner nature does not get beyond that abstrac- 
tion so that, as in the Oriental and particularly in the 
Indian mythology, the infinite realm of divine persons 
who are brought in not only as forces in general, but as 
self-conscious, willing figures, continues to be devoid of 
Spirit or whether, on the other hand, spite of that one 
necessity, the higher spiritual principle emerges in these 
persons, and whether, in consequence, spiritual freedom 
comes to view in their worshippers. Thus in the religion 
of the Greeks we see absolute necessity in the form of 
Fate occupying the place of what is supreme and ultimate, 
and it is only in subordination to this necessity that we 
have the joyous company of the concrete and living Gods. 
These are also conceived of as spiritual and conscious, 
and in the above-mentioned and in other mythologies are 
multiplied so as to make a still larger crowd of heroes, 
nymphs of the sea, of the rivers, and so on, muses, fauns, 
&c., and are connected with the ordinary external life of 
the world and its contingent things, partly as chorus and 
accompaniment in the form of a further particularisation 
of one of the divine supreme deities, partly as figures of 
minor importance. Here necessity constitutes the abstract 
force which is above all the particular spiritual, moral, 
and natural forces. These latter, however, partly possess 
the character of non-spiritual, merely natural force, which 
remains completely under the power of necessity, while 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 315 

their personalities are merely personifications ; and yet, 
although they may not exactly deserve to be called persons, 
they also partly contain the higher characteristic of sub- 
jective inherent freedom. In this way they occupy a 
position above that of their mistress, namely, necessity, 
to which only the limited element in this deeper prin- 
ciple is subordinate, a principle which has elsewhere to 
await its purification from this finitude in the region of 
which it at first appears, and has to manifest itself inde- 
pendently in its infinite freedom. 

The logical working out of the category of absolute 
necessity is to be looked for in systems which start from 
abstract thoughts. This application in detail of the 
category has reference to the relation between this prin- 
ciple and the rnanifoldness of the natural and spiritual 
world. If absolute necessity thus forms the basis as 
representing what is alone true and truly real, in what 
relation do material things stand to it? These things 
are not only natural things, but also include Spirit, the 
spiritual individuality with all its conceptions, interests, 
and aims. This relation has, however, been already de- 
fined in connection with the principle referred to. They 
are contingent things. Further, they are distinct from 
absolute necessity itself ; but they have no independent 
Being as against it, and neither has it, consequently, as 
against them. There is only one Being, and this belongs 
to necessity, and things by their very nature form part 
of it. What we have defined as absolute necessity has 
to be more definitely hypostatised in the form of universal 
Being or Substance, while, in its character as a result, it 
is a self-mediated unity in virtue of the abrogation of 
mediation. It is thus simple Being, and is what alone 
represents the subsisting element of things. When our 
attention was previously called to necessity in the form 
of Greek Fate, it was thought of as characterless or inde- 
terminate force ; but Being itself has already come down 
from the abstraction referred to, to the level of the things 



316 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

above which it ought to be. Still, if Essence or Sub- 
stance itself were merely an abstraction, things would 
have an independent existence of concrete individuality 
outside of it. It must at the same time be characterised 
as the force of these things, the negative principle which 
makes its validity felt in them, and by means of which 
they represent what is perishing and transitory and has 
merely a phenomenal existence. We have seen how this 
negative element represents the peculiar nature of con- 
tingent things. They have thus this force within them- 
selves, and do not represent manifestation in general, but 
the manifestation of necessity. This necessity contains 
things, or rather it contains them in their stage of media- 
tion. It is not, however, mediated by something other 
than itself, but it is the direct mediation of itself with 
itself. It is the variable element or alternation of its 
absolute unity whereby it determines itself as mediation, 
that is, as external necessity, a relation of an Other to 
an Other, that is, whereby it spreads itself out into in- 
finite multiplicity, into. the absolutely conditioned world, 
but in such a way that it degrades external mediation, 
the contingent world to the condition of a world of 
appearance, and in this uunity comes into harmony with 
itself, posits itself as equal to itself, and does this in the 
world as representing its force. Everything is thus in- 
cluded in it, and it is immediately present in everything. 
It is the Being, as it also is the changeable and variable 
element of the world. 

The determination of necessity as unfolded in the 
philosophical conception of it, is, speaking generally, the 
standpoint which we are in the habit of calling Panthe- 
ism, and sometimes in a more developed and definite form, 
sometimes in a more superficial form, it is what expresses 
the relation indicated. The very fact of the interest 
which this name has again awakened in modern times, 
and still more the interest of the principle itself, render 
it necessary that we should direct our attention to it. 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 317 

The misunderstanding which prevails with regard to 
Pantheism ought not to be allowed to pass without being 
mentioned and corrected ; and after that we shall have 
to consider in this connection the place of the principle 
in the higher totality, in the true Idea of God. Since at 
a previous stage the consideration of the religious form 
taken by the principle was dispensed with, we may, by 
way of bringing a picture of it before the mind, take the 
Hindu religion as representing Pantheism in its most 
developed form. With this development there is bound 
up at the same time the fact that the absolute Substance, 
the sole and only One, is represented in the form of 
thought as distinguished from the accidental world, as 
existing. Religion in itself essentially involves the re- 
lation of Man to God, and still less when it appears in 
the form of Pantheism does it leave the one Essence in 
that condition of objectivity in which metaphysic imagines 
it has left it as an object while preserving its special 
character. We have to call attention first of all to the 
remarkable character of this attempt to bring Substance 
under the conditions of subjectivity. Self-conscious 
thought does not only make that abstraction of Substance, 
but is the very act of abstraction itself. It is just that 
simple unity as existing for itself which is called Sub- 
stance. This thought is thus conceived of as the force 
which creates and preserves the world, and which also 
alters and changes its existence as this appears in parti- 
cular forms. This thought is termed Brahma. It exists 
as the natural self-consciousness of the Brahmans, and as 
the self-consciousness of others who put under restraint 
and kill their consciousness in its manifold forms, their 
sensations, their material and spiritual interests, and all 
the active life connected with them, and reduce it to the 
perfect simplicity and emptiness of that substantial unity. 
Thus this thought, this abstraction of men in themselves, 
is held to be the force of the world. The universal force 
takes particular forms in gods, who are nevertheless 



318 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

transitory and temporary ; or, what conies to the same 
thing, all life, whether in the form of spiritual or natural 
individuality, is torn away from the fiuitude of its per- 
fectly conditioned connection all understanding in this 
latter being destroyed and is elevated into the form of 
divine existence. 

As we were reminded, the principle of individualisation 
appears in this Pantheism in its several religious shapes, 
in a form inconsistent with the force of substantial unity. 
Individuality, it is true, does not exactly get the length 
of being personality, but the force unfolds itself in a 
sufficiently wild way as an illogical transition into its 
opposite. We find ourselves in a region of unbridled 
madness in which the present in its most ordinary form 
is directly elevated to the rank of something divine, and 
Substance is conceived of as existing in finite shapes, 
while the shapes assumed have a volatile character and 
directly melt away. 

The Oriental theory of the universe is in general re- 
presented by this idea of sublimity which puts all indi- 
vidualisation into special shapes, and infinitely extends 
all particular forms of existence and particular interests. 
It beholds the One in all things, and consequently clothes 
this purely abstract One in all the glory and splendour 
of the natural and spiritual universe. The souls of the 
Eastern Poets dive into this ocean and drown in it all 
the necessities, the aims, the cares of this petty circum- 
scribed life, and revel in the enjoyment of this freedom, 
upon which they lavish by way of ornament and adorn- 
ment all the beauty of the world. 

It will be already clear from this picture, and this is 
a point upon which I have elsewhere explained my 
views, that the expression Pantheism, or rather the 
German expression in which it appears in a somewhat 
transposed form, that God is the One and All, or every- 
thing TO cv /cat Trai/ leads to the false idea that in 
pantheistic religion or in philosophy, everything (Alles), 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 319 

that is. every existing thing in its finitude and par- 
ticularity, is held to be possessed of Being as God or as 
a god, and that the finite is deified as having Being. 
It could only be a narrow and ordinary or rather a 
scholastic kind of mind which would expect this to be 
the case, and which, being perfectly unconcerned about 
what actually is, sticks to one category, and to the cate- 
gory, in fact, of finite particularisation, and accordingly 
conceives of the manifoldness which it finds mentioned, 
as a permanent, existing, substantial particularisation. 
There can be no mistake but that the essential and 
Christian definition of freedom or individuality, which as 
free is infinite in itself and is personality, has misled the 
Understanding into conceiving of the particularisation of 
finitude under the category of an existing unchangeable 
atom, and into overlooking the moment of the negative 
which is involved in force and in the general system to 
which it belongs. It imagines Pantheism as saying that 
all, that is, all things in their existing isolation, are God, 
since it takes the irav in this definite category as referring 
to all and every individual thing. Such an absurd idea 
has never come into anybody's head outside of the ranks 
of these opponents of Pantheism. This latter represents 
a view which is, on the contrary, quite the opposite of 
that which they associate with it. The finite, the con- 
tingent is not something which subsists for itself. In 
the affirmative sense it is only a manifestation, a revela- 
tion of the One, only an appearance of it which is itself 
merely contingency. The fact is that it is the negative 
aspect, the disappearance in the one force, the ideality 
of what has Being as a momentary standpoint in the 
force, which is the predominant aspect. In opposition to 
this the Understanding holds that these things exist for 
themselves and have their essence in themselves, and are 
thus in and in accordance with this finite essentiality, 
supposed to be divine or even to be God. They cannot 
free themselves from the absoluteness of their finitude, 



320 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

and this finitude is not thought of as something which 
disappears and is absorbed in this unity with the Divine, 
but is still preserved by them in it as existing. On the 
other hand, since the finite is, as they say, robbed of its 
infinitude by Pantheism, the finite has in consequence 
no longer any Being at all. 

It is preferable to use the expression, " the philosophical 
systems of substantiality," and not to speak of systems of 
Pantheism, because of the false idea associated with this 
term. We may take the Eleatic system in general as 
representing these in ancient times, and the Spinozistic 
as their modern representative. These systems of sub- 
stantiality are, as we have seen, more logical than the 
religions corresponding to them, since they keep within 
the sphere of metaphysical abstraction. The one aspect 
of the defect which attaches to them is represented by the 
one-sidedness referred to as existing in the idea formed 
by the Understanding of the course taken by the spirit's 
elevation to God. That is to say, they start from actual 
existence, treat it as a nullity, and recognise the Absolute 
One as the truth of this existence. They start with a 
presupposition, they negate it in the absolute unity, but 
they don't get out of this unity back to the presupposi- 
tion. They don't think of the world, which is con- 
sidered to be merely comprised within an abstraction of 
contingency, of the many and so on, as produced out of 
Substance. Everything passes into this unity as into a 
kind of eternal night, while this unity is not characterised 
as a principle which moves itself to its manifestation, or 
produces it, " as the unmoved which moves," according 
to the profound expression of Aristotle. 

(a.) In these systems the Absolute, or God, is defined 
as the One, Being, the Being in all existence, the absolute 
Substance, the Essence which is necessary not through 
an Other, but in-and-for-itself, the Causa Sui, the cause 
of itself, and consequently its own effect, that is, the 
mediation which cancels itself. The unity implied in 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 321 

this latter characteristic belongs to an infinitely deeper 
and more developed form of thought than the abstract 
unity of Being, or the One. This conception has been 
sufficiently explained. Causa Sui is a very striking 
expression for that unity, and we may accordingly give 
some further attention to its elucidation. The relation 
of cause and effect belongs to the moment of mediation 
through an Other already referred to, and which we saw 
in necessity, and is its definite form. Anything is com- 
pletely mediated by an Other in so far as this Other is 
its cause. This is the original thing or fact as absolutely 
immediate and independent ; the effect, on the other 
hand, is what is posited merely, dependent, and so forth. 
In the antithesis of Being and Nothing, One and Many, 
and so on, the characteristics are found existing in such 
a way as to imply that they are matched with each 
other in their relation, and yet that they have, as un- 
related, a valid independent existence besides. The 
Positive, the Whole, and so on, is, it is true, related to 
the Negative, to the parts, and this relation forms part 
of its essential meaning ; but the Positive as well as the 
Negative, the Whole, the parts, and so on, have in ad- 
dition an independent existence outside of this relation. 
But cause and effect have a meaning simply and solely 
in virtue of their relation. The meaning of the cause 
does not extend beyond the fact that it has an effect. 
The stone which falls has the effect of producing an 
impression on the object upon which it falls. Looked 
at apart from this effect which it has as a heavy body, 
it is physically separate and distinct from other equally 
heavy bodies. Or, to put it otherwise, since it is a 
cause while it continues to produce this impression, if 
we, for example, imagine its effect to be transitory, then 
when it strikes against another body it ceases so far to 
be a cause, and outside of this relation it is just a stone, 
which it was before. This idea haunts the popular mind 
chiefly in so far as it characterises the thing as the 

VOL. III. X 



322 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

original fact and as continuing to exist outside of that 
effect it produces. Apart from that effect which it has 
produced, the stone is undoubtedly a stone, only it is 
not a cause. It is a cause only in connection with its 
effect, or, to introduce the note of time, during its effect. 

Cause and effect are thus, speaking generally, insepa- 
rable. Each has meaning and existence only in so far 
as it stands in this relation to the other, and yet they 
are supposed to be absolutely different. We cling with 
equal firmness to the idea that the cause is not the effect 
and the effect is not the cause, and the Understanding 
holds obstinately to this fact of the independent being 
of these two categories and of the absence of relation 
between them. 

When, however, we have come to see that the cause is 
inseparable from the effect, and that it has any meaning 
only as being in the latter, then it follows that the cause 
itself is mediated by the effect ; it is only in and through 
the effect that it is cause. This, however, means nothing 
more than that the cause is the cause of itself, and not 
of an Other. For this which is supposed to be an Other 
is of such a kind that the cause is first a cause in it, and 
therefore in it simply reaches itself, and in it affects 
only itself. 

Jacobi has some reflections on this Spinozistic category, 
the Causa Sui (" Letters on the Doctrine of Spinoza," 2nd 
ed., p. 416), and I refer to his criticisms upon it just be- 
cause they afford us an example of how Jacobi, the pio- 
neer of the party of immediate knowledge or faith, who 
is so much given to rejecting the Understanding in his 
consideration of thought, does not get beyond the mere 
Understanding. I pass over what he says in the passage 
referred to regarding the distinction between the category 
of ground and consequence, and that of cause and effect, 
and the fact that in his later controversial essays he 
imagines he has found in this difference a true description 
and definition of the nature of God. I merely indicate 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 323 

the more immediate conclusion referred to by him, namely, 
that from the interchange of the two " it may be success- 
fully inferred that things can originate without originating, 
and alter without undergoing alteration, and can be before 
and after each other without being before and after." 
Such conclusions are too absurd to require any further 
comment. The contradiction to which the Understand- 
ing reduces a principle is an ultimate one ; it is simply 
the limit of the horizon of thought beyond which it is 
not possible to go, but in presence of which we must turn 
back. We have, however, seen how the solution of this 
contradiction is reached, and we shall apply it to the 
contradiction in the form in which it here appears and is 
here stated, or rather we shall simply briefly indicate 
the estimate to be formed of the above assertion. The 
conclusion referred to, that things may originate without 
originating, and alter without undergoing alteration, is 
manifestly absurd. We can see that it expresses the 
idea of self-mediation through an Other, of mediation as 
self-annulling mediation, but likewise that this mediation 
is directly abandoned. The abstract expression, Things, 
does its part in bringing the finite before the mind. The 
finite is a form of limited Being to which only one of 
two opposite qualities attaches, and which does not re- 
main with itself in the Other, but simply perishes. But 
then the Infinite is this mediation with self through the 
Other, and without repeating the exposition of this con- 
ception, we may take an example from the sphere of 
natural things without going at all to that of spiritual 
existence, namely, life as a whole. What is well known 
to us as its self-preservation is " successfully" expressed 
in terms of thought as the infinite relation in virtue of 
which the living individual of whose process of self- 
preservation we alone speak here, without paying atten- 
tion to its other characteristics, continually produces itself 
in its existence. This existence is not identical Bein, 

O' 

Being in a state of repose, but, on the contrary, represents 



3^4 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

origination, alteration, mediation with an Other, though 
it is a mediation which returns to itself. The living 
force of what has life consists iu making life originate, 
and the living already is ; and so we may indeed say 
though it is certainly a bold expression that such and 
such a thing originates without originating. It under- 
goes alteration ; every pulsation is an alteration not only 
in all the pulse-veins, but in all the parts of its entire 
constitution. In all this change it remains the same 
individual, and it remains such only in so far as it is 
this inherently self-altering active force. We may thus 
say of it that it alters without undergoing alteration, 
and finally though we cannot certainly say that of the 
things that it previously exists without existing pre- 
viously, just as we have seen with regard to the cause 
that it exists previously, is the original cause, while at 
the same time previously, before its effect, it is not a 
cause, and so on. It is, however, tedious, and would 
even be an endless task to follow up and arrange the 
expressions in which the Understanding presents its finite 
categories and seeks to give them the character of some- 
thing permanent. 

This annihilation of the category of causality as used 
by the Understanding takes place in connection with 
the conception which is expressed by the term Causa Sui. 
Jacobi, without recognising in it this negation of the 
finite relation, the speculative element, that is, despatches 
it simply in a psychological, or, if you like, in a prag- 
matical fashion. He declares that "it is difficult to 
conclude from the apodictic proposition, everything must 
have a cause, that it is possible everything may not 
have a cause. Therefore it is that the Causa Sui has 
been invented." It is certainly difficult for the Under- 
standing not only to have to abandon its apodictic pro- 
position, but to have to assume another possibility 
which, moreover, has a wrong look in connection with 
the expression referred to. But it is not hard for 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 325 

reason, which, on the contrary, in its character as the 
free, and especially as the religious human spirit, abandons 
such a finite relation as this of mediation with an Other, 
and knows how to solve in thought the contradiction 
which comes to consciousness in thought. 

Dialectic development, such as has been here given, 
does not, however, belong to the systems of simple sub- 
stantiality, to pantheistic systems. They do not get 
beyond Being or Substance, a form which we shall take 
up later on. This category, taken in itself, is the basis 
of all religions and philosophies. In all these God is 
Absolute Being, an Essence, which exists absolutely in- 
and-for-itself, and does not exist through an Other, but 
represents independence pure and simple. 

(b.) Categories like these, which are of so abstract a 
character, do not apply very widely, and are very 
unsatisfactory. Aristotle ("Metaphysics," i. 5) says of 
Xenophanes, that " he was the first to unify (ev/cra?), 
he did not advance anything of a definite nature, and so 
gazing into the whole Heavens into space (ins Blaue), 
as we say said, the One is God." The Eleatics, who 
followed him, showed more definitely that the many and 
the characteristics which rest on multiplicity lead to 
contradiction and resolve themselves into nothing ; and 
Spinoza, in particular, showed that all that is finite dis- 
appears in the unity of Substance, and thus there is no 
longer left any further, concrete, fruitful determination 
for this Substance itself. Development has to do only 
with the form of the starting-points which finds itself 
in presence of subjective reflection, and with that of its 
dialectic, by means of which it brings back into that 
universality the particular and finite, which appear in 
an independent way. It is true that in Parmenides this 
One is defined as thought, or that which thinks, what has 
Being ; and so, too, in Spinoza, Substance is defined as 
the unity of Being (of extension) and thought. Only, 
one cannot therefore say that this Being or Substance is 



326 THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 

hereby posited as something which thinks, that is, as 
activity which determines itself in itself. On the con- 
trary, the unity of Being and thought continues to be 
conceived of as the One, the Unmoved, the Stolid. 
There is an outward distinction into attributes and 
modes, movement and will, a distinction effected by 
the Understanding. The One is not unfolded as self- 
developing necessity, not, in accordance with what is 
indicated by its notion, as the process which mediates 
the necessity with itself and within itself. If the prin- 
ciple of movement is here wanting, it is certainly found 
in more concrete principles in the flux of Heraclitus, in 
number too, and so on ; but, on the one hand, the unity 
of Being, the divine self-equality, is not preserved, and, 
on the other, a principle of this kind stands in exactly 
the same relation to the ordinary existing world as the 
Being, the One, or the Substance referred to. 

(c.) Besides this One there is, however, the actual con- 
tingent world, Being with the quality of the Negative, 
the realm of limitations and things finite, and in this 
connection it makes no difference whether this realm is 
conceived of as a realm of external existence, of sem- 
blance or illusion, or, according to the definition of 
superficial Idealism, as a merely subjective world, a 
world of consciousness. This manifoldness with its 
infinite developments is, to begin with, separated from 
that Substance, and we have to find out in what relation 
it stands to this One. On the one hand, this definite 
existence of the world is merely taken for granted. 
Spinoza, whose system is the most fully developed, starts 
from definitions, that is, from the actual characteristics of 
thought and of ordinary ideas in general. The starting- 
points of consciousness are presupposed. On the other 
hand, the Understanding forms this accidental world into 
a system in accordance with the relations or categories of 
external necessity. Parmenides gives the beginnings of 
a system of the phenomenal world at the head of which 



PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD 327 

the goddess Necessity is placed. Spinoza did not con- 
struct any philosophy of Nature, but treated of the other 
part of concrete philosophy, namely, a system of ethics. 
This system of ethics was from one point of view to be 
logically connected with the principle of absolute Sub- 
stance, at least in a general way, because Man's highest 
characteristic, his tendency to seek after God, is the pure 
love of God, according to Spinoza's expression, siib specie 
(cterni. Only, the principles which underlie his philo- 
sophical treatment of the subject, the content, the start- 
ing-points, have no connection with the Substance itself. 
All systematic detailed treatment of the phenomenal 
world, however logical it may be in itself, when it fol- 
lows the ordinary procedure, and starts with what is 
perceived by the senses, becomes an ordinary science in 
which what is recognised as the Absolute itself, the One, 
Substance, is riot supposed to be living, is not the moving 
principle, the method, for it is devoid of definite char- 
acter. There is nothing left of it for the phenomenal 
world, unless that this natural and spiritual world in 
general is wholly abstract, is a phenomenal world, a 
world of appearance, or else that the Being of the world 
in its affirmative form is Being, the One, Substance, while 
the particularisation in virtue of which Being is a world, 
evolution, emanation, is a falling of Substance out of itself 
into finitude, which is an absolutely inconceivable mode 
of existence. It is further implied that in Substance itself 
there is no principle involving the characteristic of being 
creative ; and thirdly, that it is likewise abstract force, the 
positing of finitude as something negative, the disappear- 
ance of the finite. 

(Concluded igth August 1829.) 



AMPLIFICATION OF THE TELEOLOGICAL PEOOF 
IN THE LECTUEES ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF 
KELIGION DELIVEEED IN THE SUMMEE OF 
1831. 

KANT has criticised this proof too, as well as the other 
proofs of the existence of God, and it was chiefly owing 
to him that they were discredited, so that it is now 
scarcely considered worth while to look at them closely. 
And yet Kant says of this proof that it deserves to be 
always regarded with respect. When, however, he adds 
that the teleological proof is the oldest, he is wrong. The 
first determination of God is that of force or power, and 
the next in order is that of wisdom. This is the proof 
we meet with first amongst the Greeks also, and it is 
stated by Socrates (Xenophon, Memor., at the end of Book 
First). Socrates takes conformity to an end, especially in 
the form of the Good, as his fundamental principle. The 
reason why he is in prison, he declares, is that the Athe- 
nians consider it to be good. This proof accordingly 
coincides historically with the development of freedom. 

We have already considered the transition from the 
religion of power to the religion of spirituality in general. 
We have already had in the intermediate stages also the 
very same mediation which we recognise as present in 
the religion of beauty, but broken up and as yet devoid 
of any spiritual character. But since with that transi- 
tion to the religion of spirituality there is added another 
and essential determination, we have first to bring out its 

meaning in an abstract way, and direct attention to it. 

328 



AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 329 

Here we have the determination of freedom as such, of 
an activity as freedom, a working in accordance with 
freedom, no longer an unhindered working in accordance 
with power, but a working in accordance with ends. 
Freedom is self-determination, and what is active has 
self-determination implicitly as its end in so far as it 
spontaneously determines itself within itself. Power is 
simply the act of self -projection, and implies that there 
is an unreconciled element in what is projected ; and 
though this is implicitly an image or picture of the 
power, still it is not expressly felt in consciousness that 
what creates simply preserves and produces itself in its 
creation in suchwise that the characteristics of the 
Divine itself appear in the creature. God is here con- 
ceived of as possessed of the characteristic of wisdom, of 
activity in accordance with an end. Power is good and 
righteous, but action in accordance with an end is what 
first constitutes this characteristic of rationality, according 
to which nothing comes out of the act but what had been 
already previously determined upon, that is, this identity 
of the creating power with itself. 

The difference which exists among the proofs of the 
existence of God consists simply in the difference of 
their determination. There is in them a mediation, a 
starting-point, and a point at which we arrive. In the 
Teleological and Physico-theological Proofs both points 
possess in common the characteristic of conformity to an 
end. We start from a form of Being which is actually 
characterised as in conformity with an end, and what is 
thereby mediated is the idea of God as positing and 
working out an end. Being, considered as the immediate 
from which we start in the Cosmological Proof, is, to 
begin with, a manifold, contingent Being. In accordance 
with this, God is defined as necessity which has Being 
in-and-for-itself, uhe force or power which is above the 
contingent. The higher determination accordingly is, 
that conformity to an end is present in Being. The 



330 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

rational element already finds expression in the end in 
the form of a free self-determination and carrying out 
of this content, so that this content which at first in its 
character as an end is inward, is realised, and the reality 
corresponds to the notion or end. 

A thing is good in so far as it fulfils its destiny or end, 
and this means that the reality is adequate to the notion 
or destined character. In the world we perceive a harmo- 
nious working of external things, of things which exist 
in a relation of indifference to each other, which come 
into existence accidentally so far as other things are con- 
cerned, and have no essential reference to one another. 
Still, although things thus exist apart from each other, 
there is evidence of a unity in virtue of which there is 
an absolute conformity amongst them. Kant states this 
in a detailed way, as follows. The present world reveals 
to us an inexhaustible scene of manifold life, of order, 
conformity to ends, and so on. This determination in 
accordance with an end is seen specially in what has 
life, both as it is in itself and in its relation to things 
outside of it. Man, the animal, is something inherently 
manifold, has certain members, entrails, &c., and although 
these appear to exist alongside of each other, still the 
general determination in accordance with an end is present 
through them all and maintains them. The one exists 
only through the other and for the other, and all the 
members and component parts of men are simply means 
for the self-preservation of the individual which is here 
the end. Man, all that has life in fact, has many needs : 
air, nourishment, light, &c., are necessary for his suste- 
nance. All this actually exists on its own account, and 
the capacity of making it minister to an end is external 
to it. Animals, flesh, air, and so on, which are required 
by Man, do not in themselves declare that they are ends, 
and yet the one is simply a means for the other. There 
is here an inner connection which is necessary, but which 
does not exist as such. This inner connection is not 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 331 

made by the objects themselves, but is produced by some- 
thing else, as these things themselves are. The conformity 
to an end does not produce itself spontaneously ; the 
active working in accordance with an end is outside of 
the things, and this harmony which implicitly exists and 
posits itself, is the force which presides over these objects, 
which destines them to stand to each other in the relation 
of things whose existence is determined by an end. The 
world is thus no longer an aggregate of contingent things, 
but a collection of relations in conformity with an end, 
which, however, attach themselves to things from without. 
This relation of ends must have a cause, a cause full of 
power and wisdom. 

This activity in accordance with an end, this cause, is 
God. 

Kant remarks that this proof is the clearest of all, and 
can be understood by the ordinary man. It is owing to it 
that Nature first acquires an interest ; it gives life to the 
knowledge of Nature, just as it has its origin in Nature. 
This is in a general form the Teleological Proof. 

Kant's criticism is accordingly as follows. This proof, 
he says, is defective above all, because it takes into con- 
sideration merely the form of things. Reference to an 
end applies only to the determination of form. Each 
thing preserves itself, and is therefore not merely a 
means for others, but is an end itself. The quality in 
virtue of which a thing can be a means has reference to 
its form merely, and not to its matter. The conclusion, 
therefore, does not carry us further than the fact, that 
there is a forming cause ; but we do not prove by this 
that matter also has been produced by it. The proof, 
says Kant, does not therefore adequately express the idea 
of God as the creator of matter and not merely of form. 

Form contains the characteristics which are mutually 
related ; but matter is to be thought of as without form, 
and consequently as without relation. This proof there- 
fore stops short at a demiurge, a constructor of matter, 



332 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

and does not get the length of a creator. So far as this 
criticism is concerned, we may undoubtedly say that all 
relation is form, and this implies that form is separated 
from matter. We can see that God's activity would in 
this way be a finite one. When we produce anything 
technical we must take the material for it from the out- 
side. Activity is thus limited and finite. Matter is 
thus thought of as permanently existing for itself, as 
eternal. That, in virtue of which things are brought into 
connection with each other, represents the qualities, the 
form, not the permanent existence of things as such. 
The subsistence or permanent existence of things is their 
matter. It is, to begin with, undoubtedly correct that 
the relations of tilings are included within their form ; 
but the question is, Is this distinction, this separation 
between form and matter admissible, and can we thus 
put each specially by itself ? It has been shown, on 
the contrary, in the Logic (Encydop. Phil., 129), that 
formless matter is a nonentity, a pure abstraction of 
the Understanding, which we may certainly construct, 
but which ought not to be given out to be anything true. 
The matter which is opposed to God as something un- 
alterable is simply a product of reflection, or, to put it 
otherwise, this identity of formlessness, this continuous 
unity of matter is itself one of the specific qualities of 
form. We must therefore recognise the truth that 
matter which is thus placed on one side by itself, belongs 
itself to the other side, to form. But then the form is 
also identical with itself, relates itself to itself, and in 
virtue of this has just the very quality which is distin- 
guished from it as matter. The activity of God Himself, 
His simple unity with Himself, the form, is matter. This 
remaining equal to self, this subsistence is present in, the 
form in such a way that the latter relates itself to itself, 
and that is its subsistence, which is just what matter is. 
Thus the one does not exist apart from the other ; on the 
contrary, they are both the same. 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 333 

Kant goes on to say, further, that the syllogism starts 
from the fact of the order and conformity to an end 
observable in the world. We find there arrangements 
in accordance with an end. It is this reference of things 
to an end, not found in the things themselves, which 
accordingly serves for the starting-point. We have in 
this way a third thing, a cause, posited. From the fact 
of arrangement in accordance with an end, we reason to 
the existence of its author, who has established the teleo- 
logy of the relations. We cannot therefore infer the 
existence of anything more than what, so far as content 
is concerned, is actually given in presently existing things, 
and is in conformity with the starting- point. The teleo- 
logical arrangement strikes us as wonderfully grand, as 
one of supreme excellence and wisdom ; but a wisdom 
which is very great and worthy of admiration is not yet 
absolute wisdom. It is an extraordinary power which 
is recognised as present here, but it is not yet Almighty 
Power. This, says Kant, is a leap which we are not justi- 
fied in taking, and so we take refuge in the Ontological 
Proof, and this starts from the conception of the most real 
Essence. The mere sense-perception, however, from which 
we start in the Teleological Proof, does not bring us so 
far as this totality. It must certainly be granted that 
the starting-point has a smaller content than what we 
arrive at. In the world there is merely relative and not 
absolute wisdom. We must look at this more closely. 
We have here a syllogism. We reason from the one to 
the other. We start with the peculiar constitution of the 
world, and from this go on to conclude the existence of 
an active force, of something that binds together things 
which exist apart from each other ; this represents their 
inner nature, their potentiality, and is not present in 
them in an immediate way. The form of the reasoning 
process here produces the false impression that God has 
a basis from which we start. God appears as something 
conditioned. The arrangement of things in accordance 



334 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

with an end is the condition, and the existence of God 
is apparently asserted to be something mediated or con- 
ditioned. This is an objection upon which Jacobi laid 
special stress. We try, he says, to reach the uncon- 
ditioned through the conditions. But, as we have already 
seen, this merely seems to be the case, and this false 
impression disappears of itself when we reach the real 
meaning of the result. So far as this meaning is con- 
cerned, it will be allowed that the process is merely the 
course followed by subjective knowledge. This mediation 
does not attach to God Himself. He is certainly the 
Unconditioned, infinite activity which determines itself in 
accordance with ends, and which has arranged the world 
on a teleological plan. We do not imagine, when we 
speak of that process of knowledge, that these conditions 
from which we start precede that infinite activity. On 
the contrary, this represents the process of subjective 
knowledge only, and the result we reach is that it is God 
who has established these teleological arrangements, and 
that therefore they represent something established in 
the first instance by Him, and are not to be regarded as 
something fundamental. The ground or principle from 
which we start disappears in what is characterised as the 
true principle. This is the meaning of the conclusion, 
that what conditions is itself in turn explained to be the 
conditioned. The result declares that to posit as the 
foundation what is itself conditioned would be to intro- 
duce a defective element. This procedure accordingly, 
both actually and as regards its end, is not merely sub- 
jective, not something which goes on merely in thought; on 
the contrary, this defective side is itself removed by means 
of the result. The objective thus asserts its presence in 
this form of knowledge. There is not only an affirmative 
transition here, but there is also a negative moment in 
it, which is not, however, posited in the form of the 
syllogism. There is therefore a mediation which is the 
negation of the first immediacy. The course followed by 



7^ LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 335 

Spirit is, it is true, a transition to the activity which is 
in-and-for-itself and posits ends, but, it is involved in 
the course thus followed, that the actual existence of this 
teleological arrangement is not held to represent Being iii- 
and-for-itself. This is found only in reason, the activity 
of eternal reason. That other Being is not true Being, 
but only an appearance or semblance of this activity. 

In dealing with the determination of ends, we must 
further distinguish between Form and Content. If we 
consider form pure and simple, we have Being in accord- 
ance with an end which is finite, and, so far as form is 
concerned, its finitude consists in the fact that the end 
and means, or the material in which the end is realised, 
are different. This is finitude. "We thus use a certain 
material in order to carry out our ends, since the activity 
and the material are different. The finitude of form is 
what constitutes the finitude of Being in accordance with 
an end. The truth of this relation, however, is not any- 
thing of this kind. On the contrary, the truth is in the 
teleological activity which is means and matter in itself, a 
teleological activity which accomplishes its ends through 
itself. This is what is meant by the infinite activity 
of the end. The end accomplishes itself, realises itself 
through its own activity, and thus comes into harmony 
with itself in the process of realising itself. The finitude 
of the end consists, as we saw, in the separableness of 
means and material. Viewed thus, the end represents 
what is as yet a technical mode of action. The truth of 
the determination of the end consists in the fact that the 
end has within itself its means, as also the material in 
which it realises itself. Eegarded in this aspect, the end 
is true so far as the form is concerned, for objective truth 
consists simply in the correspondence between the notion 
and reality. The end is true only when what uses the 
means, and the means, as well as the reality, are identical 
with the end. The end thus presents itself as something 
which possesses reality in itself, and is not something 



336 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

subjective, one-sided, the moments of which exist outside 
of it. This is the truth of the end, while the teleological 
relation seen in finitude represents, on the contrary, some- 
thing untrue. It is necessary to remark here that teleo- 
logical activity as representing a relation thus defined in 
accordance with its truth, exists in the form of something 
higher, which is, however, at the same time present, and 
which we can certainly speak of as the Infinite, since 
it is a teleological activity which has both material 
and means in itself. Regarded from another point of 
view, however, it is finite as well. Teleological deter- 
mination in this its true form, which is the form we 
require it to have, is found actually existing, though 
only in one of its aspects, in what has life, in what 
is organic. Life as the subject is the soul. This latter 
is the end, that is, it posits itself, realises itself, and 
thus the product is the same as the thing that produces. 
What has life is, however, an organism ; the organs are 
the means. The living soul has a body in itself, and it 
is only in union with this that it constitutes a whole, 
something real. The organs are the means of life, and 
these very means, the organs themselves, are also the ele- 
ment in which life realises and maintains itself, they are 
material also. This is self-preservation. What has life 
preserves itself ; it is beginning and end ; the product is 
at the same time what begins. The living as such is 
constantly in a state of activity. The feeling of need is 
the beginning of activity, and impels to the satisfaction 
of the need, and this satisfaction, again, is the beginning 
of a new need. The living exists only in so far as it 
is constantly a product. This gives us the truth of the 
end so far as form is concerned. The organs of the 
living being are means, but they are equally the end ; in 
exercising their activity they produce themselves only. 
Each organ maintains the other, and in this way maintains 
itself. This activity constitutes an end, a soul, which is 
present in every point of the organism. Every part of 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 337 

the body experiences sensation ; the sonl is in it. Here 
we have teleological activity in its true form. But the 
living subject is also something thoroughly finite. The 
teleological activity presents here the character of some- 
thing which is formally true, but which is not complete. 
The living being produces itself ; it has the material of 
production in itself. Each organ excretes animal lymph 
which is made use of by other organs in order to repro- 
duce themselves. The living being has the material in 
itself, only this is merely an abstract process. Finitude 
shows itself in this, that while the organs draw their 
nourishment from themselves they employ material for 
this taken from the outside. Everything organic is re- 
lated to inorganic Nature, which has a definite indepen- 
dent existence. Regarded in one aspect, the organism is 
infinite since it represents a circle of pure return into 
self ; but it is at the same time in a state of tension rela- 
tively to external inorganic Nature, and has its needs. 
Here the means come from the outside. Man requires 
air, light, water ; he also feeds on other living things, on 
animals which he in this way reduces to the state of in- 
organic Nature, to means. It is this relation particularly 
which leads to the idea of a higher unity representing 
that harmony in which the means correspond to the end. 
This harmony is not found in the subject itself, and yet 
it has in it the harmony which constitutes organic life, 
as we have seen. The whole construction of the organs, 
of the nerve and blood system, of the entrails, lungs, 
liver, stomach, and so on, presents a remarkable agree- 
ment. But does not this harmony itself demand some- 
thing else outside of the subject ? We may let this 
question alone at present; for if we get a grip of the 
notion of organism such as has been given, then this 
development of teleological determination is itself a neces- 
sary consequence of the living nature of the subject in 
general. If we do not get a grip of that notion, then 
the living being will not be the concrete unity referred 
VOL. nr. y 



333 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

to. In order to understand what life is, recourse is 
accordingly had to external mechanical modes of con- 
ception as illustrated by the action of the blood, and to 
chemical conceptions as seen in analysis of foods. It is 
not, however, possible by such processes to discover what 
life itself is. It is necessary to suppose the existence of 
some third thing which has brought these processes into 
existence. As a matter of fact, however, it is just the 
subject which is this unity, this harmony of the organism. 
Still this unity involves the relation of the living subject 
to external Nature, which is thought of as having a merely 
indifferent and accidental connection with the subject. 

The conditions involved in this relation do not form 
the sole basis of the development of what has life ; still, 
if the living being did not find these conditions ready to 
hand, it could not possibly exist. The observation of 
this fact directly produces the feeling that there must 
exist something higher which has introduced this har- 
mony. It at once awakens sympathetic attention and 
admiration in men. Every animal has its own narrow 
range of means of sustenance, and indeed many animals 
are limited to a single source of sustenance, human 
nature having in this respect also the most general 
character. This fact accordingly, that there exists for 
every animal this outward particular condition, rouses in 
Man that feeling of astonishment which passes over into 
a sense of exalted reverence for that third something 
which has brought about this unity. This represents 
Man's elevation to the thought of that higher existence 
which produces the conditions necessary for the accom- 
plishment of its end. The subject secures its own pre- 
servation, and the act whereby it does this is, further, 
in all living things an unconscious one, is what in 
animals we term instinct. The one gets its means of 
sustenance by force, the other produces it with the help 
of art. This it is which we term the wisdom of God in 
Nature, in which we meet with that infinitely manifold 



/A r LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 339 

arrangement in respect of the various activities and 
conditions necessary to the existence of all particular 
things. When we consider all those particular forms in 
which the living being shows its activity, we find that 
they are contingent, so to speak ; that they have not 
been produced by the subject itself, and necessitate the 
existence of a cause outside of them. The fact of life 
merely involves self-preservation in general ; but living 
beings differ from one another in an infinite variety of 
ways, and this variety is the work of something other 
than themselves. The question is simply this, How does 
inorganic Nature pass over into organic Nature, and how 
is it possible for it to serve as a means for what is 
organic ? We are here met by a peculiar conception of 
the way in which these two come together. Animals 
are inorganic as contrasted with men, and plants are 
inorganic as contrasted with animals. But Nature, which 
is in itself inorganic, as represented, for instance, by the 
sun, the moon, and in general by what appears in the 
form of means and material, is in the first instance 
immediate, and exists previous to the organic. Eegarded 
in this way, the relation is one in which the inorganic 
is independent, while, on the other hand, the organic is 
what is dependent. The former, the so-called immediate, 
is the unconditioned. Inorganic Nature appears complete 
in itself; plants, animals, men, approach it in the first 
instance from the outside. The earth might have con- 
tinued to exist without vegetation, the vegetable kingdom 
without animals, the animal kingdom without men. 
These various forms of existence thus seem to be inde- 
pendent and to be there for themselves. We are in the 
habit of referring to this as a matter of experience. Thus 
there are mountains without any vegetation, without 
animals and men. The moon has no atmosphere, there 
does not go on in it any meteorological process such as 
supplies the conditions necessary for vegetation. It thus 
exists without having any vegetative nature, and so on. 



340 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

Inorganic existence of this kind appears as independent, 
and Man is related to it in an external way. The idea 
thus arises that Nature is in itself a producing force 
which creates blindly, and out of which vegetation comes. 
From this latter in turn comes what is auimal, and then 
finally Man possessed of conscious thought. We can 
undoubtedly assert that Nature produces stages of which 
the one is always the condition of that which follows. 
But then, since organic life and Man thus appear on the 
scene in an accidental way, the question arises whether 
or not Man will get what is necessary. According to 
the idea referred to, this is equally a matter of chance, 
since here there is no unity having a valid existence on 
its own account. Aristotle gave expression to the same 
idea. Nature is constantly producing living things, 
and the point is whether or not these will be able to 
exist Whether or not any of the things thus produced 
will be able to maintain itself, is a pure matter of 
accident. Nature has already made an endless number 
of attempts, and has produced a host of monstrosities ; 
myriads of beings of various forms have issued from her 
which were not, however, able to continue in existence, 
and besides, she did not concern herself at all with the 
disappearance of such forms of life. By way of proving 
this assertion, people are in the habit of directing atten- 
tion specially to the remains of monsters which are stil.l 
to be found here and there. These species disappeared, 
it is asserted, because the conditions necessary to their 
existence had ceased. Eegarded in this fashion, the 
harmony which exists between the organic and the in- 
organic is held to be accidental. There is here no 
necessity to begin and ask about a unity. The presence 
of design is itself affirmed to be accidental. Now, here 
is what is really involved in this conception. What, 
speaking generally, we call inorganic Nature as such is 
thought of as having an independent existence, while the 
organic is attached to it in an external fashion, so that 



341 

it is a mere matter of chance whether or not the organic 
finds the conditions of existence in what confronts it. 
So far as the form of what essentially constitutes the 
conception is concerned, we have to remark that in- 
organic Nature is what comes first, is what is immediate. 
It was in harmony with the childlike ideas of the Mosaic 
age that the heavens and the earth, light, and so on, 
should have been thought of as created first, while the 
organic appeared later in point of time. The question 
is this : Is that the true definition or essential nature 
of the notion of the inorganic, and do living things and 
Man represent what is dependent ? Philosophy, on the 
other hand, explains the truth involved in the defini- 
tion of the notion ; and apart from this, Man is certain 
that he is related to the rest of Nature as an end, and 
that Nature is meant to be a means so far as he is con- 
cerned, and that this represents the relation in which 
the inorganic in general stands to the organic. The 
organic is in its formal aspect, and by its very nature, 
something which exists in accordance with an end. It 
is means and end, and is therefore something infinite in 
itself. It is an end which returns back into itself ; and 
even regarded as something dependent on what is outside 
of it, it has the character of an end, and consequently it 
represents what is truly first in comparison with what 
has been termed the immediate, in comparison, that is, 
with Nature. This immediacy is merely one-sided de- 
termination, and ought to be brought down to the level 
of something that is merely posited. This is the true 
relation. Man is not an accident added on to what is 
first ; but, on the contrary, the organic is itself what is 
first. The inorganic has in it merely the semblance of 
Being. This relation is logically developed in Science 
itself. 

This relation, however, still involves an element of 
separation, as seen in the fact that the organic, regarded 
from one side, is related outwardly to inorganic Nature, 



342 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

which is not posited as existing in the organic itself. 
The living being develops out of the germ, and the 
development is the action of the limbs, the internal 
organs, and so on ; the soul is the unity which brings 
this about. The truth, however, of organic and inorganic 
Nature here also is simply the essential relation between 
the two, their unity and inseparability. This unity is a 
third something which is neither the one nor the other. 
It is not found in immediate existence. The absolute 
determination which brings both, the organic as well as 
the inorganic, into unity, namely, the subject, is the 
organic ; while the other appears as object, but changes 
itself into the predicate of the organic, into something 
which is held to belong to it. This is the reciprocal 
element in this relation. Both are put into one, and in 
this one each is something dependent and conditioned. 
We might call this third something, the thought to which 
consciousness raises itself, God, using the word in a 
general sense. It falls, however, very far short of the 
Notion of God. Taken in this sense, it represents the 
activity of production, which is a judgment whereby both 
sides are produced together. In the one Notion they 
harmonise and exist for one another. The thought to 
which we rise, namely, that the truth of the relation of 
ends is this third something, is thus absolutely correct, 
taking that third thing in the sense in which it has just 
been defined. Taken thus, however, it is defined in a 
formal way, and the definition rests, in fact, on something 
whose truth it is. It is itself living activity ; but this 
is not yet Spirit, rational action. The correspondence 
between the Notion as representing the organic, and 
reality as representing the inorganic, simply expresses 
the essence of life itself. It is involved in a more 
definite form in what the ancients called the vou?. The 
world is a harmonious whole, an organic life which is 
determined in accordance with ends. It was this which 
the ancients held to be vov$ } and, taken in a more ex- 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 343 

tended signification, this life was also called the world- 
soul, the \dyos. All that is posited here is simply the 
fact of life, and it is not implied that the world-soul 
is distinguished as Spirit from this active life belonging 
to it. The soul is simply the living element in the 
organic ; it is not something apart from the body, some- 
thing material, but is rather the life-force which pene- 
trates the body. Plato accordingly called God an 
immortal o>oi/, that is, an eternally living being. He 
did not get beyond the category of life. When we 
grasp the fact of life in its true- nature, it is seen to be 
one principle, one organic life of the universe, one living 
system. All that is, simply constitutes the organs of 
the one subject. The planets which revolve round the 
sun are simply the giant members of this one system. 
Eegarded in this fashion, the universe is not an aggregate 
of many accidents existing in a relation of indifference, 
but is a system endowed with life. With this thought 
we have not, however, yet reached the essential charac- 
teristic of Spirit. 

We have considered the formal aspect of the relation 
of ends. The other aspect is that of the content. The 
question here may take any of the following forms : 
What are the essential characteristics of the end, or 
what is the content of the end which is being realised, 
or how are these ends constituted in respect of what 
is called wisdom ? So far as the content is concerned, 
the starting-point is the same as that of experience. 
We start, that is, from immediate Being. The study of 
ends in the form in which we actually meet with them, 
has, when pursued from this side, contributed more than 
anything else to the neglect of the teleological proof, so 
much so indeed that this latter has come to be regarded 
with disdain. We are in the habit of speaking of the 
wise arrangements of Nature. The various and manifold 
kinds of animals are, as regards the real nature of the 
life they have, finite. The external means necessary for 



344 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

this life actually exist ; life in its various forms is the 
end. If accordingly we ask what the substance of this 
end is, it is seen to be nothing else save the preservation 
of these insects, of these animals, &c. We may indeed 
find pleasure in contemplating their life ; but the neces- 
sity of their nature and destiny is of an absolutely in- 
significant kind, or, to put it otherwise, is an absolutely 
insignificant conception. When we say, God has made 
things thus, we are making a pious observation, we are 
rising to God ; but when we think of God we have the 
idea of an absolute, infinite end, and these petty ends 
present a sharp contrast to what we recognise as His 
actual nature. If we now consider what goes on in 
higher spheres of existence, and look at human ends, 
which we may regard as relatively the highest of all, we 
see that they are for the most part frustrated and dis- 
appear, leaving no permanent result. In Nature millions 
of seeds perish just when they begin to exist, and without 
ever being able to develop the life-force in them. The 
life of the largest portion of living things is based on the 
destruction of other living things ; and the same holds 
good of higher ends. If we traverse the domain of 
morality, and go on even to its highest stage, namely, 
civil life, and then consider whether the ends here are 
realised or not, we shall find, indeed, that much is attained, 
but that still more is rendered abortive, and destroyed by 
the passions and wickedness of men ; and this is true of 
the greatest and most exalted ends. We see the earth 
covered with ruins, with remains of the splendid edifices 
and works left by the finest nations whose ends we re- 
cognise as having a substantial value. Great natural 
objects and human works do indeed endure and defy 
time, but all that splendid national life has irrecoverably 
perished. We thus see how, on the one hand, petty, 
subordinate, even despicable designs are fulfilled; and, 
on the other, how those which are recognised as having 
substantial value are frustrated. We are here certainly 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 345 

forced to rise to the thought of a higher determination 
and a higher end, when we thus lament the misfortune 
which has befallen so much that is of high value, and 
mourn its disappearance. We must regard all those ends, 
however much they interest us, as finite and subordinate, 
and ascribe to their finitude the destruction which over- 
takes them. But this universal end is not discoverable 
in experience, and thus the general character of the tran- 
sition is altered, for the transition means that we start 
from something given, that we reason syllogistically from 
what we find in experience. But then what we find 
present in experience is characterised by limitation. The 
supreme end is the Good, the general final-end of the 
world. Eeason has to regard this end as the absolute 
final-end of the world, and must look upon it as being 
based purely on the essential nature of reason, beyond 
which Spirit cannot go. Reason in the form of thought 
is, however, recognised as being the source of this end. 
The next step accordingly is that this end should show 
that it is accomplished in the world. But the Good is 
what has a determinate character in-and-for-itself by 
means of reason ; and to this, Nature stands opposed, 
partly as physical Nature which follows its own course 
and its own laws, and partly as the natural element in 
Man, his particular ends which are opposed to the Good. 
If we go by what our senses show us, we find much that 
is good in the world, but also an infinite quantity of evil, 
and we would just have to reckon up the amount of evil, 
and the amount of good which does not attain realisation, 
in order to discover which preponderates. The Good, 
however, is something absolutely substantial ; it belongs 
to the very essence of its nature that it should be realised. 
But it is something which merely ought to be real, for it 
cannot reveal itself in experience. It stops short with 
being something which ought to exist, something which 
is a postulate. But since the Good has not itself the 
power thus to realise itself, it is necessary to postulate a 



346 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

third thing through which the final-end of the world will 
be realised. This is an absolute postulate. Moral good 
belongs essentially to Man ; but since his power is finite, 
and since the realisation of the Good in him is limited 
owing to the natural element attaching to him, since, in 
fact, he is himself the enemy of the Good, it is not within 
his power to realise it. The existence of God is here con- 
ceived of simply as a postulate, as something that should 
be, and which should have for Man subjective certainty, 
because the Good represents what is ultimate in his 
reason. But this certainty is merely subjective ; it re- 
mains merely a belief, an ideal, and it cannot be shown 
that it actually exists. Aye, if the Good is to be really 
moral and present, then we should have to go the length 
of requiring and presupposing the perpetual existence of 
the discord, for moral Good can only exist and can only 
~be in so far as it is in conflict with evil. It would thus 
be necessary to postulate the perpetual existence of the 
enemy, of what is opposed to the Good. If, then, we 
turn to the content, we find it to be limited ; and if we 
go on to the supreme end, we find ourselves in another 
region, where we start from what is inward, not from 
what is actually present and supplied by experience. If, 
on the other hand, we start from experience, the Good, 
the final-end is something subjective merely, and in this 
case the contradiction between Man's finite life and the 
Good would have to exist always. 



AMPLIFICATION OF THE TELEOLOGICAL AND ON- 
TOLOGICAL PROOFS GIVEN IN THE LECTURES 
ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION FOR THE 
YEAR 1827. 

AMONGST the proofs of the existence of God, the Cosmo- 
logical occupies the first place. Only in it is the affir- 
mative, absolute Being, the Infinite, defined not merely 
as infinite in general, but, in contrast to the characteristic 
of contingency, as absolutely necessary. The True is the 
absolutely necessary Essence, and not merely Being or 
Essence. 

This category already involves other characteristics. 
In fact, these proofs might be multiplied by dozens ; 
each stage of the logical Idea may contribute its quota. 
The characteristic of absolute necessity is involved in 
the course of thought described. 

The absolutely necessary Essence, taken in a general, 
abstract sense, is Being not as immediate, but as reflected 
into itself. We have defined Essence as the non-finite, 
the negation of that negative we term the finite. That 
to which we make the transition is thus not abstract 
Being, barren Being, but Being which is the negation of 
the negation. 

It involves in it the element of difference, the differ- 
ence which carries itself back into simplicity. In this 
Infinite, this absolute Being or Essence, there is thus 
involved the determination of difference, negation of the 
negation, but difference as it relates itself to itself. But 
determination of this kind is what we call self-determina- 

347 



338 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

to. In order to understand what life is, recourse is 
accordingly had to external mechanical modes of con- 
ception as illustrated by the action of the blood, and to 
chemical conceptions as seen in analysis of foods. It is 
not, however, possible by such processes to discover what 
life itself is. It is necessary to suppose the existence of 
some third thing which has brought these processes into 
existence. As a matter of fact, however, it is just the 
subject which is this unity, this harmony of the organism. 
Still this unity involves the relation of the living subject 
to external Nature, which is thought of as having a merely 
indifferent and accidental connection with the subject. 

The conditions involved in this relation do not form 
the sole basis of the development of what has life ; still, 
if the living being did not find these conditions ready to 
hand, it could not possibly exist. The observation of 
this fact directly produces the feeling that there must 
exist something higher which has introduced this har- 
mony. It at once awakens sympathetic attention and 
admiration in men. Every animal has its own narrow 
range of means of sustenance, and indeed many animals 
are limited to a single source of sustenance, human 
nature having in this respect also the most general 
character. This fact accordingly, that there exists for 
every animal this outward particular condition, rouses in 
Man that feeling of astonishment which passes over into 
a sense of exalted reverence for that third something 
which has brought about this unity. This represents 
Man's elevation to the thought of that higher existence 
which produces the conditions necessary for the accom- 
plishment of its end. The subject secures its own pre- 
servation, and the act whereby it does this is, further, 
in all living things an unconscious one, is what in 
animals we term instinct. The one gets its means of 
sustenance by force, the other produces it with the help 
of art. This it is which we term the wisdom of God in 
Nature, in which we meet with that infinitely manifold 



/A r LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 339 

arrangement in respect of the various activities and 
conditions necessary to the existence of all particular 
things. When we consider all those particular forms in 
which the living being shows its activity, we find that 
they are contingent, so to speak ; that they have not 
been produced by the subject itself, and necessitate the 
existence of a cause outside of them. The fact of life 
merely involves self-preservation in general ; but living 
beings differ from one another in an infinite variety of 
ways, and this variety is the work of something other 
than themselves. The question is simply this, How does 
inorganic Nature pass over into organic Nature, and how 
is it possible for it to serve as a means for what is 
organic ? We are here met by a peculiar conception of 
the way in which these two come together. Animals 
are inorganic as contrasted with men, and plants are 
inorganic as contrasted with animals. But Nature, which 
is in itself inorganic, as represented, for instance, by the 
sun, the moon, and in general by what appears in the 
form of means and material, is in the first instance 
immediate, and exists previous to the organic. Eegarded 
in this way, the relation is one in which the inorganic 
is independent, while, on the other hand, the organic is 
what is dependent. The former, the so-called immediate, 
is the unconditioned. Inorganic Nature appears complete 
in itself; plants, animals, men, approach it in the first 
instance from the outside. The earth might have con- 
tinued to exist without vegetation, the vegetable kingdom 
without animals, the animal kingdom without men. 
These various forms of existence thus seem to be inde- 
pendent and to be there for themselves. We are in the 
habit of referring to this as a matter of experience. Thus 
there are mountains without any vegetation, without 
animals and men. The moon has no atmosphere, there 
does not go on in it any meteorological process such as 
supplies the conditions necessary for vegetation. It thus 
exists without having any vegetative nature, and so on. 



350 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

means produces the end, and the end the means. The 
world is living, it contains the movement of life and 
the realm of living things. What has not life inorganic 
Nature, the sun, the stars stands in an essential and 
direct relation to what has life, and to Man in so far 
as he in a measure belongs to living Nature, and partly 
because he sets particular ends before himself. This 
finite conformity to an end is found in Man. 

That is the characteristic note of life in general, and 
at the same time of life as it actually is, life as seen 
in the world. This, it is true, is life in itself, inner 
conformity to an end ; but it means that each kind or 
species of life represents a very narrow sphere, and has 
a very limited nature. 

The real advance accordingly is from this finite mode 
of life to absolute, universal conformity to an end, to 
the thought that this world is a /coV/xo?, a system, in 
which everything has an essential relation to everything 
else, and nothing is isolated ; something which is regularly 
arranged in itself, in which everything has its place, is 
closely connected with the whole, subsists through the 
whole, and thus takes an active part in the production, 
in the life of the whole. 

The main point -thus is that a transition is made from 
finite life to one universal life, to one end which is 
articulated into particular ends, in such a way that in 
this particularisation things are in a condition of harmony 
and of reciprocal essential relation. 

God is defined, to begin with, as the absolutely necessary 
Essence ; but this definition, as Kant has already observed, 
falls very far short of expressing the conception of God. 
God alone is the absolute necessity, but this definition 
does not exhaust the conception of God ; the definition 
in which He is described as the universal life-force, the 
one universal life, is both higher and deeper. 

Since life is essentially subjectivity, something living, 
this universal life is subjective, the vov$, a soul. Thus 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 351 

the idea of the soul is involved in the universal life, 
the characteristic of the one all -disposing, all -ruling, 
organising vovs. 

As regards the formal element here, we have to note 
the very same thing as we found in connection with the 
previous proofs. We have here once more the transition 
of the Understanding ; because there are arrangements, 
ends of a like kind, there is a wisdom which disposes 
and orders everything. But the act of rising to this 
thought involves at the same time the negative moment, 
which is the main point, namely, that this life, these 
ends as they actually are, and as existing in their im- 
mediate finite form, do not represent what is true. On 
the contrary, it is this one life movement, this one vov?, 
which is what is true. 

There are not two things ; there is indeed a starting- 
point, but the mediation is of such a character that in 
the transition what is the first does not continue to be 
the basis, the condition. On the contrary, its untruth, 
its negation, is involved in this transition ; the negation 
of the negative, finite element in it, the negation of the 
particularity of life. This negative is negated, and in 
this act of elevation, finite particularity disappears. As 
representing truth, the object of consciousness is the 
system of one life movement, the vov$ of one life move- 
ment, the soul, the Universal Soul. 

Here it happens again that this definition : God is the 
one universal active force of life, the soul which pro- 
duces, posits, organises a /coV/xoy, is a conception which 
does not yet suffice to express the conception of God. 
It is essentially involved in the conception of God that 
He is Spirit. 

We have still to consider the third, essential and 
absolute form from this point of view. In the transi- 
tion just referred to, the content was life, the finite life 
movement, immediate life which actually exists. Here 
in the third form the content which forms the basis is 



332 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

Spirit. Put in the form of a syllogism, it runs thus : 
Because finite minds exist or are, and it is Being 
which here constitutes the starting-point, therefore the 
absolute Mind or Spirit exists or is. 

But this " because," this merely affirmative relation, 
is defective in this respect, that the finite minds would 
require to be thought of as the basis, and God would be 
a consequence of the existence of finite minds. The 
true form is : There are finite minds, but the finite has 
no truth, the truth of the finite spirit is the absolute 
Spirit. 

The finitude of finite minds is no true Being; it is by 
its very nature dialectic, which implies that it abrogates 
itself, negates itself, and the negation of this finitude is 
affirmation as infinitude, as something universal in-and- 
for-itself. This is the highest form of the transition ; 
for the transition is here Spirit itself. 

There are in this connection two characteristics, Being 
and God. In so far as we start from Being, this latter, 
looked at as it first shows itself, is directly finite. Since 
these characteristics exist, we could equally as well begin 
from God and go on to Being, though, when we say we 
could, we must remember that we cannot speak of what 
we can do in connection with the conception of God, 
because He is absolute necessity. 

This starting-point when it thus appears in finite form 
does not yet involve Being; for a God who is not, is 
something finite, and is not truly God. The finitude of 
this relation consists in the fact that it is subjective, that 
it is this general conception in fact. God has existence, 
but He has only this purely finite existence in our idea 
of Him. 

This is one-sided ; we have introduced into this content, 
namely, God, the taint of that one-sidedness, that finitude, 
which is termed the idea of God. The main point is 
that the idea should get rid of this defect whereby it 
is something merely represented in the mind, something 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 353 

subjective, and that this content should have attached to 
it the determination of Being. 

We have to consider this second mediation as it 
appears in this finite form, or form of the Understanding, 
in the shape of the Ontological Proof. This proof starts 
from the Notion or conception of God, and goes from this 
to Being. We do not find this transition amongst the 
ancients, for instance in Greek philosophy, nor was it 
made in the Christian Church till after a long time. It 
was one of the great scholastic philosophers, Anselm, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, that profound, philosophical 
thinker, who first grasped this idea. 

We have the idea of God ; but He is not merely an 
idea, He is. How are we to make this transition ? 
How are we to get to see that God is not merely some- 
thing subjective in us ? How is this determination of 
Being to be mediated with God ? 

The Kantian criticism was directed against this so- 
called Ontological Proof too, and with triumphant success, 
so to speak, in its day. It is still held at the present 
day that these proofs have been refuted as being worth- 
less efforts on the part of the Understanding. We have, 
however, already recognised the fact that the act where- 
by these higher thoughts are here reached is the act of 
Spirit, the act peculiarly belonging to thinking Spirit, 
which Man will not renounce the right to exercise ; and 
so, too, this proof is an act of the same sort. 

The ancients did not know of this transition ; for, in 
order to arrive at it, it is necessary that Spirit should go 
down into itself as deeply as possible. Spirit, when once 
it has arrived at its highest form of freedom, namely, 
subjectivity, first conceives this thought of God as sub- 
jective, and reaches first this antithesis of subjectivity 
and objectivity. 

Anselm expressed the nature of this transition in the 
following fashion. The idea of God is that He is ab- 
solutely perfect. If accordingly we think of God only 

VOL. III. Z 



354 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

as idea, then we find that what is merely subjective, and 
merely represented in the form of an idea, is defective, 
and not perfect ; for that is the more perfect which is 
not merely represented as an idea, but also is, really is. 
Therefore, since God is what is most perfect, He is not 
idea merely, but, on the contrary, He is possessed of 
actuality or reality. 

The later, broader, and more rational form which re- 
presents the development of this thought of Anselin 
asserts that the conception or Notion of God implies 
that He is the Substance of all realities, the most real 
Essence. But Being also is reality, therefore Being 
belongs to Him. 

It has been urged against this that Being is no reality, 
that it does not belong to the reality of a notion. Eeality 
in a notion or conception implies determinate content in 
a notion, but Being adds nothing to the notion or to the 
content of the notion. Kant has put it in the following 
plausible form : I form an idea of a hundred thalers ; 
but the notion or conception, the determinateness of the 
content is the same whether I form an idea of them, or 
whether I actually possess them. 

As against the first proposition that Being ought to 
follow from the Notion in general, it has been urged 
that Notion and Being are different from each other : 
the Notion thus exists for itself, while Being is different. 
Being must come to the Notion from the outside, from 
elsewhere. Being is not involved in the Notion. This 
can be put in a very plausible way by the aid of the 
hundred thalers. 

In ordinary life an idea of a hundred thalers is called 
a notion or conception. That is not a notion at all in 
which you may have any kind of determination of 
content. It is certainly true that Being may not belong 
to an abstract sense-idea such as blue, or to any deter- 
minateness of the Understanding which happens to be in 
my mind; but then this ought not to be called a notion. 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 355 

The Notion, and still more the absolute Notion, the 
Notion in-and-for-itself, the Notion of God, is to be taken 
for itself, and this Notion contains Being as a determinate 
characteristic. Being is a form of the determinateness 
of the Notion. This may easily be shown to be the case 
in two ways. 

First of all, the Notion is essentially the Universal 
which determines itself, which particularises itself ; it 
is what has the active power of differentiation, of par- 
ticularising and determining itself, of positing a finitude, 
and of negating this its own finitude, and of being through 
the negation of this finitude identical with itself. 

This is the Notion in general. This is just what the 
Notion of God, the absolute Notion, God, really is. God 
as Spirit or as love means that God particularises Him- 
self, begets the Son, creates the world, an Other of 
Himself, and possesses Himself, is identical with Himself, 
in this Other. 

In the Notion in general, and still more in the Idea, 
what, in fact, we see is, that through the negation of the 
particularisation, the positing of which is at the same 
time the work of the activity which He Himself is, He 
is identical with Himself, relates Himself to Himself. 

The primary question is, What is Being ? what is this 
attribute, this determinateness, namely, reality ? Being is 
nothing but the unutterable, the inconceivable ; it is not 
that concrete something which the Notion is, but merely 
the abstraction of reference to self. We may say, it is 
immediacy, Being is the Immediate in general, and con- 
versely the Immediate is Being, it is in relation to itself, 
that is, the mediation is negated. 

This determination, namely, reference to self, or im- 
mediacy, accordingly directly exists for itself in the 
Notion in general, and it is involved in the absolute 
Notion, in the Notion of God, that He is reference to 
self. This abstract reference to self is directly found in 
the Notion itself. 



356 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

The Notion is what has life, what is self-mediating ; 
and so Being, too, is one of its characteristics. Being 
is different from the Notion to this extent, that Being 
is not the entire Notion, but is only one of its char- 
acteristics, merely that simple aspect of the Notion in 
virtue of which it is at home with itself, is self-identity. 

Being is the determination which is found in the 
Notion as something different from the Notion, because 
the Notion is the whole of which Being is only one 
determination. The other point is that the Notion con- 
tains this determination in itself, this latter is one of 
its determinations ; but Being is also different from the 
Notion, because the Notion is the totality. In so far as 
they aie different, mediation forms a necessary element 
in their union. 

They are not immediately identical ; all immediacy is 
true and real only in so far as it is mediation within 
self, and conversely all mediation, in so far as it is 
immediacy in itself, has reference to self. The Notion 
is different from Being, and the peculiar quality of 
the difference lies in this that the Notion absorbs and 
abolishes it. 

The Notion is the totality, represented by the move- 
ment, the process, whereby it makes itself objective. The 
Notion as such, as distinct from Being, is something 
purely subjective, and that implies a defect. The Notion, 
however, is all that is deepest and highest. The very 
idea of the Notion implies that it has to do away with 
this defect of subjectivity, with this distinction between 
itself and Being, and has to objectify itself. It is itself 
the act of producing itself as something which has Being, 
as something objective. 

Whenever we think of the Notion, we must give up 
the idea that it is something which we only possess, and 
construct within ourselves. The Notion is the Soul, the 
final-end of an object, of what has life ; what we call 
Soul is the Notion, and in Spirit, in consciousness, the 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 357 

Notion as such attains to existence as a free Notion 
existing in its subjectivity as distinct from its reality 
as such. 

The sun, the animal is the Notion merely, but has 
not the Notion ; for them the Notion has not become 
objective. It is in consciousness and not in the sun 
that \ve find that division which is called I, the existing 
Notion, the Notion in its subjective reality, and I, this 
Notion, arn the subjective. 

No man, however, is content with his mere self-hood. 
The Ego is active, and this activity shows itself in ob- 
jectifying self, in giving to it reality, definite existence. 
In its more extended and concrete signification, this 
activity of the Notion is impulse. All sense of satisfac- 
tion arises through this process whereby subjectivity is 
done away with, and what is inward and subjective is 
posited as at the same time outward, objective, and real, 
that process by which the unity of the merely subjective 
and merely objective is brought about, and the two are 
stripped of their one-sidedness. 

There is nothing so well illustrated by all that goes 
on in the world as the abolition of the antithesis of 
subjective and objective, whereby the unity of the two 
is effected. 

The thought of Anselm, therefore, so far as its content 
is concerned, is the truer and more necessary thought ; 
but the form of the proof deduced from it is certainly 
defective in the same way as the modes of mediation 
previously referred to. This unity of Notion and Being 
is hypothetical, and its defect consists just in the very 
fact of its being hypothetical. 

What is presupposed is that the pure Notion, the 
Notion in-and-for-itself, the Notion of God, is, involves 
Being also. 

If we compare this content with faith or immediate 
knowledge, we shall find that the content is the same as 
that of Anselm's presupposition. 



358 AMPLIFICATION OF TELEOLOGICAL PROOF 

When the matter is regarded from this standpoint of 
immediate knowledge, what is said is this. It is a fact 
of consciousness that I have the idea of God, and along 
with this idea, Being must be given, so that Being is 
bound up with the content of the idea. If it is said 
that we believe it, that we know it immediately, then 
the unity of the idea and Being is expressed in the 
form of the presupposition just exactly as it is in 
Anselm's argument, and we have not got one bit further. 
This is the presupposition we everywhere meet with in 
Spinoza too. He defines the Absolute Cause, Substance, 
as that which cannot be thought of as not existing, the 
conception of which involves existence ; that is, the idea 
of God is directly bound up with Being. 

This inseparableness of Notion and Being is found in 
an absolute form only in the case of God. The finitude 
of things consists in the fact that the Notion, and the 
determinate form of the Notion, and the Being of the 
Notion, are essentially different. The finite is what does 
not correspond to its notion or rather to the Notion. 

We have the notion of Soul ; the reality, the Being is 
represented by the corporeal form. Man is mortal ; we 
express this truth also by saying, Soul and body can part. 
There we have the fact of separation, but in the pure 
Notion we have the inseparableness referred to. 

When we say that every impulse is an example of 
the Notion which realises itself, we are saying what is 
formally correct ; the impulse which has received satisfac- 
tion is undoubtedly infinite so far as the form is con- 
cerned. But the impulse has a content, and so far as 
the determinate character of its content is concerned, it is 
finite and limited ; in this respect it does not correspond 
to the Notion, to the pure Notion. 

This is the explanation of what is involved in the 
standpoint of the knowledge of the Notion. What was 
considered last was the knowledge of God, the certainty 
of the existence of God in general. The essential thought 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 359 

in this connection is the following. When we have 
knowledge of an object, the object is before us ; we are 
directly related to it. But this immediacy involves media- 
tion, what was called the act of rising to God, the fact 
that the human spirit comes to consider the finite as 
non-existent. 

By means of this negation Man's spirit raises itself to 
God, brings itself into harmony with God. The con- 
clusion : I know that God is, is the simple relation which 
has originated in this negation. 



AMPLIFICATION OF THE ONTOLOGICAL PKOOF 
IN THE LECTURES ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF 
RELIGION FOR THE YEAR 1831. 

IN the sphere of revealed religion what we have first 
to consider is the abstract Notion or conception of God. 
This free, pure revealed Notion is what forms the hasis. 
The manifestation of the Notion, its Being for an Other, 
is its existence, and the region in which this existence 
shows itself is the finite spirit. This is the second point 
finite Spirit and finite consciousness are concrete. The 
chief thing in this religion is to attain to a knowledge of 
the process whereby God manifests Himself in the finite 
spirit, and is identical with Himself in it. The third point 
is the identity of the Notion and existence. Identity here 
is, strictly speaking, an awkward expression, for what we 
have in God is essentially life. 

In the forms hitherto treated of we advanced from 
what was lower to what was higher, and took as the 
starting-point one definite form of existence regarded in 
its different aspects. Being was first taken in its most 
comprehensive aspect as contingent Being, in the Cosmo- 
logical Proof. The truth of contingent Being is Being 
necessary in-and-for-itself. Existence was then further 
conceived of as involving relations of ends, and this 
supplied us with the Teleological Proof. Here there is 
an advance, a beginning from existence as actually given 
and present. These proofs consequently form part of 
the finite determination of God. The Notion of God is 
that of something boundless, not boundless in the bad 

sense, but rather as representing what has at the same 

3 &> 



AMPLIFICATION OF ONTOLOGICAL PROOF 361 

time the most determinate character possible, pure self- 
determination. These first proofs belong to the domain 
of finite connection, of finite determination, since we start 
with what is given. Here, on the other hand, the start- 
ing-point is the free, pure Notion, and it is accordingly at 
this stage that we meet with the Ontological Proof of 
the existence of God. It constitutes the abstract meta- 
physical basis of this stage. It was first discovered in 
Christendom by Anselm of Canterbury. It was then 
further developed by all the later philosophers, by 
Descartes, Leibnitz, and Wolff, yet always along with 
the other proofs, though it alone is the true one. The 
Ontological Proof starts from the Notion. The Notion is 
considered to be something subjective, and is defined as 
something opposed to the object and to reality. Here it 
constitutes the starting-point, and what we have got to 
do is to show that Being, too, belongs to this Notion. 
The exact method of procedure is as follows. The 
Notion of God is first of all described, and it is shown 
that He cannot be conceived of unless as including 
Being in Himself. In so far as Being is separated from 
the Notion, God exists in a merely subjective way in 
our thought. As thus subjective He is imperfect, and 
imperfection belongs only to finite Spirit. It has to be 
shown that it is not only our notion which exists, but 
that He exists independent of our thinking. Anselm 
states the proof in the following simple form : God is 
what is most perfect, beyond which nothing can be 
thought of as existing ; if God is merely an idea, then 
He is not what is most perfect. This, however, is in 
contradiction with the first statement; for we consider 
that as perfect which is not merely an idea, but which is 
also possessed of Being. If God is merely subjective, we 
could bring forward something higher which would be 
possessed of Being as well. This is further developed as 
follows. We begin with what is most perfect, and this 
is defined as the most real Essence, as the Substance 



362 AMPLIFICATION OF ONTOLOGICAL PROOF 

of all realities. This has been termed possibility. The 
Notion as subjective, since it is distinguished from Being, 
is merely what is possible, or at all events it ought 
to be what is possible. According to the old Logic, 
possibility exists only where it can be shown that no 
contradiction exists. Realities are, in accordance with 
this idea, to be considered as existing in God only in 
their affirmative aspect, as limitless, and in such a way 
that negation is supposed to be eliminated. But it is 
easy to prove that in this case all that is left is the 
abstraction of something which is one with itself. For 
when we speak of realities we mean to imply that they 
represent different characteristics, such as wisdom, right- 
eousness, almighty power, omniscience. These character- 
istics are attributes which may easily be shown to be in 
contradiction with each other. Goodness is not right- 
eousness; absolute power is in contradiction with wisdom; 
for this latter presupposes final-ends. Power, on the 
other hand, means the limitlessness of negation and 
production. If, as is demanded, the Notion is not to 
contradict itself, all determinateness must be dropped, 
for every judgment or difference advances to the state 
of opposition. God is the Substance of all realities, it is 
said, and since one of these is Being, Being is conse- 
quently united with the Notion. This proof maintained 
itself until recent times, and we find it worked out par- 
ticularly in Mendelssohn's " Morning Hours." Spinoza 
defines the Notion or conception of God by saying that it 
is that which cannot be conceived of apart from Being. 
The finite is something whose existence does not corre- 
spond to the Notion. The species is realised in existing 
individuals, but these are transitory ; the species is the 
Universal for itself. In the case of the finite, existence 
does not correspond to the Notion. On the other hand, 
in the case of the Infinite, which is determined within 
itself, the reality must correspond to the Notion ; this is 
the Idea, the unity of subject and object. Kant criticised 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 363 

this proof, and the objections he urged against it were as 
follows. If God is defined as the Substance of all reali- 
ties, then Being does not belong to Him, for Being is no 
reality. It makes no difference to the Notion or concep- 
tion whether it exists or does not exist, it remains the 
same. Already in Anselm's day this objection was urged 
by a monk who said, " The fact of my forming an idea of 
anything does not therefore imply that the thing exists." 
Kant maintains that a hundred thalers really remain the 
same whether I merely form an idea of them or actually 
possess them ; consequently Being is not a reality, or real 
predicate, since nothing is added by it to the Notion. Ifc 
may be granted that Being is not any determinate con- 
tent ; all the same, nothing certainly should be added to 
the Notion. (We may remark in passing that to speak 
of every wretched form of existence as a notion is to go 
on quite wrong lines.) On the contrary, it should be rid 
of the defect attaching to it in that it is merely some- 
thing subjective, and is not the Idea. The Notion which 
is only something subjective, and is divorced from Being, 
is a nullity. In the form of the proof as given by 
Anselm, the infinitude consists in the very fact that it 
is not one-sided, something purely subjective to which 
Being does not attach. The Understanding keeps Being 
and the Notion strictly apart, and considers each as self- 
identical. But even according to the ordinary idea the 
Notion apart from Being is considered one-sided and un- 
true, and so, too, Being in which there is no Notion is 
looked on as notionless Being, Being which is inconceiv- 
able. This antithesis which is found in finitude cannot 
have any place in connection with the Infinite or God. 

But it is the following circumstance which makes the 
proof unsatisfactory. That most perfect and most real 
existence is in fact a presupposition measured by which 
Being for itself and the Notion for itself are one-sided. 
Descartes and Spinoza defined God as the cause of Him- 
self. Notion and existence form an identity ; in other 



364 AMPLIFICATION OF ONTOLOGICAL PROOF 

words, God as Notion cannot be conceived of without 
Being. What is unsatisfactory in this view is that we 
have here a presupposition, and this means that the 
Notion measured by this standard of hypothetical neces- 
sity must be something subjective. 

The finite and subjective, however, is not finite only 
as measured by the standard supplied by that presuppo- 
sition. It is finite in itself, and is consequently the anti- 
thesis of itself. It is the unsolved contradiction. Being 
is supposed to be distinct from the Notion. We may 
imagine we can regard this latter as strictly subjective, 
as finite ; but the essential characteristic of Being is in 
the Notion itself. This finitude of subjectivity is done 
away with in the Notion itself, and the unity of Being 
and the Notion is not a presupposition relatively to the 
latter, and by which it is measured. Being in its imme- 
diacy is contingent, and we have seen that its truth is 
necessity. The Notion necessarily involves Being, and 
this is simple reference to self, the absence of mediation. 
If we consider the Notion, we find it to be that in which 
all difference is absorbed, and in which all determinations 
are merely ideal. This ideality is mediation or difference, 
which has been absorbed and removed, perfect clearness, 
pure transparency, being at home with self. The free- 
dom of the Notion is just absolute reference to self, 
identity which is also immediacy, unity without media- 
tion. The Notion thus has Being in itself potentially. 
Its very meaning is that it does away with its one-sided - 
ness. The idea that Being can be separated from the 
Notion is a mere fancy. When Kant says that it is 
impossible to extract reality from the Notion, he is think- 
ing of the Notion as something finite. But the finite is 
just what annuls itself ; and if we were to think of the 
Notion in this way as divorced from Being, we should 
just have that very reference to self which Being essen- 
tially is. 

The Notion, however, has not Being in itself potentially 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 365 

only. It is not seen to be there merely 'by us ; but, on 
the contrary, the Notion is actual Being, Being for itself 
also. It abolishes its subjectivity, and objectifies itself. 
Man realises his ends ; that is, what was, to begin with, 
merely ideal loses its one-sidedness, and is consequently 
made into something which has Being. The Notion 
shows itself eternally in that activity whereby Being is 
posited as identical with itself. In perception, feeling, 
&c., we have outward objects before us; but we take 
them up into ourselves, and thus the objects are ideal in 
us. The Notion is thus the continuous act whereby it 
abolishes its difference. When we regard closely the 
nature of the Notion, we see that this identity with Being 
is no longer a presupposition, but a result. The course 
of procedure is as follows : the Notion makes itself ob- 
jective, turns itself into leality, and is thus the truth, 
the unity of subject and object. God is an immortal 
living Being, says Plato, whose body and soul are united 
in one. Those who separate the two sides do not get 
beyond what is finite and untrue. 

The standpoint which we here occupy is the Christian 
one. "We have here the Notion of God in its entire 
freedom. This Notion is identical with Being. Being 
is the poorest of all abstractions ; but the Notion is not 
so poor as not to contain this determination in it. We 
have not to deal with Being in the poverty of abstraction, 
in immediacy in its bad form, but with Being as the 
Being of God, as absolutely concrete Being, distinguished 
from God. The consciousness of finite Spirit is concrete 
Being, the material for the realisation of the Notion of 
God. Here it is not a question of any addition of Being 
to the Notion, or merely of a unity of the Notion and 
Being such expressions are awkward and misleading. 
The unity is rather to be conceived of as an absolute 
process, as the living movement of God, and this means 
that the two sides are distinguished from each other, 
while the process is thought of as that absolute, con- 



366 AMPLIFICATION OF ONTOLOGICAL PROOF 

tinuous act of eternal self-production. Here we have 
the concrete and popular idea of God as Spirit. The 
Notion of Spirit is the Notion which has Being in- 
and-for-itself, that is to say, knowledge. This infinite 
Notion is negative reference to self. When thus posited 
it is judgment, the act of distinguishing, self-differentia- 
tion. But what is thus differentiated, and which at first 
appears as something outward, devoid of Spirit, outside 
of God, is really identical with the Notion. The develop- 
ment of this Idea is the absolute truth. In the Christian 
religion it is known that God has revealed Himself, and 
it is the very nature of God to reveal Himself, and to 
reveal is to differentiate. What is revealed is just that 
God is the revealed God. 

Religion must be something for all men ; for those 
who have so purified their thought that they know what 
exists in the pure element of thought, and who have 
arrived at a philosophical knowledge of what God is, as 
well as for such as have not got beyond feeling and 
ordinary ideas. 

Man is not merely pure thought. On the contrary, 
thought manifests itself as perception or picture-thought, 
or in the form of ordinary ideas. The absolute truth 
which is revealed to Man must therefore exist for him 
as a being who forms general ideas and sensuous images, 
who has feelings and sensations. This is the mark by 
which religion in general is distinguished from philosophy. 
Philosophy thinks what otherwise exists only for the 
ordinary idea and sensuous perception. Man who thus 
forms general ideas, is in his character as Man a think- 
ing being also, and the substance of religion comes to 
him as a being who thinks. It is only a thinking being 
that can have a religion, and to think is also to form 
ideas, though the former act alone is the free form of 
truth. The Understanding thinks too, but it does not 
get beyond identity; for it the Notion is Notion, and 
Being is Being. These two one-sided categories always 



IN LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 367 

keep this one-sided form, so fur as it is concerned. In 
their true nature, on the other hand, these finite forms 
are no longer held to be inherently identical on the 
ground that they are, but rather they are considered to 
be merely moments of a totality. 

Those who find fault with philosophy for thinking reli- 
gion, for stating religion in terms of thought, don't know 
what they want. Hatred and vanity here come directly 
into play under the outward guise of humility. True 
humility consists in having the spirit absorbed in the 
truth, in losing ourselves in what is most inward, in having 
within us the object, and the object only. Thus any- 
thing subjective which may still be present in feeling, 
disappears. We have to consider the Idea from the 
purely speculative point of view, and to justify its claims 
as against the Understanding, and against it as being 
hostile to all content of religion whatsoever. This con- 
tent is called a mystery, because it is something hidden 
from the Understanding ; for the latter does not get the 
length of the process which this unity is, and thus it is 
that everything speculative, everything philosophical, is 
for the Understanding a mystery. 



INDEX 



ABSOLUTE, the, i, 24, 66 : as the 

One and as Power, ii. 140 
Absolute religion, the, ii. 327 ; a 

positive religion, 336 ; a religion 

of freedom, 347 
Adonis, myth of, ii. 85 
Anaxagoras, ii. 55 
Animals, worship of, i. 307 ; in 

Egypt, ii. 94, 112 
Aiiselm, i. 21 ; ii. 353; Hi. 159, 

353. 36i 

Antigone, the, 11. 264 
Apologetics criticised, i. 152 
Aristotle quoted, iii. 12, 29, 193, 

320, 325. 349, 357, 361 
Art, its origin and nature, i. 139; 

Egyptian, ii. 114 ff. ; is religious, 

114 ; in Greek religion, 273 
Atonement, the, iii. 94 
Authority, in religion, i. 224 ; in 

Christian Church, iii. 125 

BEAUTY, re'igion of, ii. 224 

Being, denned, i. 122 ; ii. 350 ; and 

God, iii. 203 ; as Nature, 223 ; 

various meanings of, 233 
Being and Notion, ii. 350 ; iii. 355 
Bible, the, in Protestant Church, 

i. 27 ; iii. 8l ; basis of Christian 

doctrine, ii. 341 ; its sublimity, 

ii. 1 88 
Bb'hine, on the Trinity, ii. 32 ; on 

Only- begotten, 37 
Brahma, ii. II, 26 ; as thought, 31 ; 

has no temple. 42 
Brahmans, the, ii. 38 
Buddha, ii. 50 
Buddhism, ii. 48 ; compared with 

Lamaism, 58 

CATHOLIC religion, the, i. 254 ; iii. 

103 
Cat<>, i. 326 



368 



Causa Sui, iii. 320 

Causes, general and special, i. 14 ; 
cause and effect, ii. 291 ; iii. 321 

Cavazzi on the Singhilli, i. 312 

Charles X., ministry of, i. 257 

China, the religion of, i. 335 ; a 
moral religion, 340 

Christ, history of, not myth. i. 146 ; 
for the Church, iii. 113; not 
merely a man, i. 226; the God- 
Man, iii. 76, 89 ; Son of God 
and Son of Man, 85, 121 ; and 
Socrates, 77, 86, 144 ; teaching 
of, 78, 82. 85 ; death of, 86, 87. 
92, 97, 98 ; resurrection of, 91 ; 
ascension of, 91, note; died for 
all, 95 ; and the Idea, 113 ; mira- 
cles of, 1 16; and His Apostles, 
179 

Christian religion, the, begins in 
dualism, i. 17 ; commands us to 
know God, 37 ; iii. 193 ; the re- 
vealed religion, i. 84 ; the perfect 
religion, ii. 330 ; polemical, as 
kingdom of God, iii. 79 ; the 
religion of Spirit, 107 ; truth of, 
1 10 ; contrasted with Moham- 
medan, 143 

Church, Christian, the, its origin, 
iii. 97, loo, 123 ; doctrine of, 124 

Cicero, on the gods, ii. 309 ; on 
Roman religion, 311 

Confucius, i. 346 

Cosmological Proof, ii. 144 ; iii. 
238 ff. ; essential defect in, 259 

Creation, conception of, ii. 155, 178 ; 
iii. I 

Creed, the, i. 27 ; creeds, iii. 126 

Cross, the, ii. 255 ; its meaning, 
iii. 89 

DEAD, reverence for, i. 311 ; care 
of, in Egypt, ii. 1 10 



INDEX 



369 



Death, conception of, in Egyptian 

religion, ii. 97 
Descartes on God, iii. 363 
Development in the finite religions, 

i. 79 

Devil, the, in Milton, iii. 49 
Divine and human, severance of, 

i. 239 ; union of, ii. 349 ; iii. 72, 

129 
Dogmas, considered of no moment, 

i. 39 ; studied historically, 41 ; 

ii. 345 ; in Christian Church, iii. 

126 
Dualism in Jewish religion, ii. 199 

ECKHARDT quoted, i. 218 
Egypt, religion of, ii. 101 
Eleatics, the, i. 98 ; iii. 320, 325 
Elevation to God, iii. 229 
End, idea of, ii. 150, 289 ff. 
England under the Stuarts, i. 249 
" Enlightenment," defined, i. 29, 
219; iii. 139; and philosophy, 
148 

Esquimaux, their religion, i. 294 
Evil, i. 72; in the Bible, 133; in 
Persian religion, ii. 73 ; in 
Egyptian religion, 103 ; in Jew- 
ish, 218 ; as reflection, iii. 53 ; 
as opposed to good, 60 ; in Chris- 
tianity, 129 
Exegesis, its limits, i. 27 ; ii. 342 

FAITH, a form of knowledge, i. 
117; in relation to knowledge, 
iii. 174 ff. ; as understood by 
Reformers, i. 150; what it is, 
21 1 ; iii. 114; breach between, 
and thought, i. 226 ; iii. 161 ; 
explains death of Christ, 87 ; and 
miracles, 119; as Christian, 157 

Fall, the, i. 271, 276 ; ii. 200, 218 ; 

53 
Fate, idea of, in Greek religion, ii. 

169, 239, 261, 321 ; iii. 314 
Father, kingdom of the, iii. 4 ; and 

Son, 12, 37 
Feeling, reliyious, i. 119, 125 ; iii. 

1 80 ; has twofold character, i. 

129; content of bad or good, 

130; iii. 182; not a basis for 

God, i. 137; and philosophy, 

149 ; life of, iii. 184 
Fetish worship, i. 309 
Fichte, i. 228 ; iii. 68 
Finite, the, and Infinite, i. 185, 200 ; 

relation to the Infinite, iii. 293 ff. 
VOL. III. 



Foe, religion of, ii. 49 

France under Robespierre, i. 257 

Freedom, human, i. 227 ; of Spirit, 
ii. 226 ; Greek idea of, 259 

French, the, and the Catholic re- 
ligion, i. 254 

GOD, v. the Absolute, i. 24 j a 
Trinity, 30 ; a living God, 33 ; 
knowledge of, 36, 45, 191 ; iii. 
190 ; not merely in feeling, i. 51 ; 
defined, 90, 92 ; ii. 55, 126, 327, 
348 ; the most universal person- 
ality, i, 121 ; personality in, ii. 
56 ; existence of, i. 167 ; iii. 
155 ff. ; ex consensu gentium, 197 ; 
as the One, ii. 135 ; attributes of 
180; iii. 205, 217; Jewish, ii. 
210; exists for Spirit, iii. 8; as 
love, IO ; not defined by predi- 
cates, 13 ; becomes man, 75 > 
" God is dead," 91 ; as Creator, 
176 ; i. 198 ; not jealous, iii. 193 ; 
the Notion, 208 ; fellowship of, 
with man, 303 

Goethe, on classic art, ii. 253 ; on 
design, iii. 349 

Goodness, innate, criticised, i. 180, 
192 

Greek religion, a religion of 
humanity, ii. 257 ; joyous, 261 ; 
gods of, 230, 244 ; not symbolical, 
285 ; compared with Roman, 300 

HEAVEN, in Chinese religion, i. 337 

Herodotus, on the Greek gods, i. 
223 ; ii. 249 ; referred to, i. 295 ; 
on immortality of soul, ii. 
1 02 ; on Egyptian gods, 103, 
III 

Hesiod, on Chaos, ii. 229 

Hindus, cosmogony of, ii. 17 ; re- 
ligion of pantheistic, iii. 317 

Homer, i. 315 ; ii. 262, 269 

IDEA, the, defined, i. 21 ; ii. 329, 
349 ; as divine self-revelation, 
iii. 4; the speculative, 17 

Idea, or ordinary thought, defined, 
i. 143 ; dialectic of, 157 

Idols and God, iii. 199 

Immortality, of the soul : idea of, 
necessarily connected with that 
of God, i. 79, 314 ; and trans- 
migration, ii. 63 ; Herodotus on, 
IO2, I IO ; not in Jewish religion, 
213; in Greek religion, 260 ; 
2 A 



370 



INDEX 



definite doctrine in Christian re- 
ligion, iii. 105 ; immortality of 
Spirit, iii. 57, 302 

Incarnation, the, i. 7 > idea of, 
pervades every religion, 77 ; its 
importance, 151 ;. iii. 73 

Incarnations, Indian, ii. 23 

India, religion of, ii. I ff. 

Indian literature, i. 285 

Infinite and finite, i. 184, 325 ; iii. 

259, 293. 299 

Innocence, the state of, i. 272 ; 
not the true state of Man, 279 

JACOBI, quoted on faith, i. 118 
Pantheism in system of, 333 ; 
and Kant, iii. 250 ; on the know- 
ledge of God, 282 ; on the Causa 
Sui, 322 

Jesus : was He the Son of God ? 
iii. in ; belief in, 120 

Jews, as chosen people, ii. 209 

Job, Book of, ii. 193 

KANT, his Critique of Pure Reason, 
i. 55, 250 ; his moral standpoint, 
228 ; on Teleological Proof, ii. 
1 59 ; iii. 328 ; on Ontological 
Proof, ii. 353 ; iii. 363 ; on Cos- 
mological Proof, 238 ff. ; quoted, 
68 

Kingdom of God, the, iii. 78, 85, 
135, 149 ; and Roman Empire, 
90 

Knowledge, denned, i. 119; iii. 
162, 296 ; in relation to religion, 
295 ; immediate knowledge, i. 42, 
162 

LAMAS, the, ii. 57 

Life defined, iii. 336 

Light, religion of, ii. 70 

Love, God as, iii. 10 ; as understood 
by Christ, 83 ; of Spiritual Com- 
munity, 1 06 

MAGIC, religion of, i. 290 ; prayer 
as, 293 

Man, and God, i. 228 ; his freedom, 
244 ; ii. 223 ; as essential end, 
165 ; in religion of sublimity, 
191 ; and animals, 252 ; his real 
nature, iii. 45 ; and Nature, 340 ; 
knows God, 303 ; and religion, 366 

Manicheism, iii. 297 

Manu, code of, ii. 17 

Marriage v. celibacy, i. 25 1 



Mendelssohn on the Christian re- 
ligion, i. 220 ; iii. 362 

Middle Ages, i. 21, 101, 280, 285 ; 
theology of, iii. 158 

Miracles, as basis of faith, i. 218; 
ii. 338 ; none amongst Hindus, 
92 ; in Jewish religion, 187 ; re- 
jected by Christ as criterion of 
truth, i. 219; ii. 339; iii. 116; 
how to be understood, 1 18; Spirit 
the true miracle, 119 

Mithras- worship, ii. 8 1 

Mohammedan religion, ii. 198, 212, 
297 ; contrasted with Christian, 
iii. 143 

Mongols, the, i. 296 

Mysteries, Greek and Christian, ii. 
283 

Mystery, religion of, ii. 85 

NATURE, design in, 1.12; not wor- 
shipped in any religion, 8l ; and 
Spirit, 108, 208 ; iii. 210 ; reli- 
gion of, i. 270 ; in Jewish reli- 
gion, ii. 184 ; in relation to Man, 
iii. 42 ; organic and inorganic, 
339 ; waste in, 344 

Necessity, its various forms, ii. 141 ; 
idea of, amongst the Greeks, iii. 
^277, 314 

Nemesis, ii. 240 

Notion, the, what it is, i. 275; de- 
fined, ii. 348 ; iii. 208 ; and 
Being, 15, 222, 354; refuge of 
religion, 147 

OBSERVATION, standpoint of, criti- 
cised, i. 176 

(Edipus Coloneus, ii. 266, 288 
One, conception of the, ii. 135 
Ontological Proof, ii. 352 ; iii. 347 ff., 

360 ff. 

Oracles, Greek, ii. 278 
Osiris, in Egyptian religion, ii. 101 ; 
identified with Nile, 107, 285 

PANTHEISM, misunderstood, i. 96 ; 
iii. 319; philosophy not, i. 214- 
217 ; criticised, 333 ; ambiguity 
of term, ii. 54 ; in Hindu reli- 
gion, iii. 317 

Paradise, i. 273, 279 

ParmenSdes, i. 333 ; ii. 135 ; iii. 
325, 326 

Parsis, religion of the, ii. 77 

Penitence, Christian and Hindu, ii. 
37 ; denned, iii. 129 



INDEX 



Perception, i. 139 

Phantasy, religion of, ii. I 

Philosophy, does not produce reli- 
gion, i. 4 ; antagonism of theology 
to, 31 ; ii. 343 ; and Christian 
doctrine, i. 38 ; and immediate 
knowledge, 42; not Spinozism, 
93 ; and religion, iii. 148, 157, 
367 ; orthodox par excellence, ii. 

345 

Philosophy of Religion, i. 23 ; rela- 
tion to philosophy, 23 ; to posi- 
tive religion, 27 ; not opposed to 
doctrine of Church, 32 ; re-estab- 
lishes dogma, 37 ; its adversaries 
shown up, 56 ; is the unfolding 
of what God is, go ; a xmity, 100 

Phcenix, the, ii. 84 

Pietism, iii. 141 

Plato, quoted, i. 165 ; on the Infinite, 
200 ; Republic of, 255 ; on Trinity, 
iii. 29 ; on God, 193, 343 

Power, conception of, ii. 128, 132 ; 
as wise, 154 ; as self -determining, 
225 

Prometheus, ii. 236 

Proof, Physico-theological, ii. 156 ; 
nature of, iii. 165 

1 'roofs of existence of God, repre- 
sent knowledge of God, i. 167 ; 
iii. 155 ff., 226 S. 

Property, idea of, ii. 214 

Protestant Church and doctrine, iii. 

159 

Protestant States, i. 249 

Protestantism, i. 252 

Protestants, present day, i. 217 ; 

view of priests and laymen, 249 ; 

and the Bible, iii. 8 1 

RACINE criticised, ii. 265 

Reason, human and divine, i. 33 ; 
and faith, 49 ; iii. 160 ; how can it 
be examined ? i. 53 ; true home of 
religion, 204 ; and dogma, iii. 159 

Reconciliation, in Christian religion, 
i. 17 ; ii. 347 ; iii. 124 ; in Greek, 
ii. 286 ; denned, iii. 67 ; accom- 
plished, 109, 129; in the world, 

136 

Reformation, the, i. 47 

Religion, defined, i. I, 106, 206; ii. 
327 ; iii. 229 ; and knowledge, i. 
5, 15 ; and philosophy, 18 ; iii. 
148, 366 ; consciousness of ab- 
solute truth, i. 22 ; highest sphere 
of consciousness, 54 ; conception 



of, 60, 89 ; and secular life, 70 ; 
revealed, 83 ; ii. 328 ; imposes 
absolute obligation, i. 103 ; use 
of figures in, 145 ; can it be 
taught ? 149 ; the knowledge of 
God, 167 ; in relation to autho- 
rity, 224 ; to "the State, 246 ; ob- 
jective, 262 ; as self-consciousness, 
ii. 164 ; as national, 208 ; con- 
trasted with religiousness, 330 ; 
must exist in feeling, iii. 181 ; 
for all men, 366 ; different re- 
ligions moments of Notion, i. 79 
Renunciation, its true meaning, i. 

245 

Revealed religion, ii. 328 ; the re- 
ligion of Spirit, 335 

Revolution, French, i. 256 

Roman religion, ii. 298 ; self-seeking, 
304; superstitious, 311 ; transi- 
tion to Christian, 317; Roman 
plays, 314 

SACRAMENT, of the Supper, iii. 132 ; 
of Baptism, 127 

Sacrifice, its nature, i. 234 ; in 
Jewish religion, ii. 218 ; in Greek, 
268 ; of Christ, iii. 95 

Schelling, his idea of God, ii. 53 

Sin, original, i. 158 

Socrates, ii. 286 ; compared with 
Chr'st, iii. 77, 86 ; on Teleo- 
logical Proof, 328 

Son, kingdom of, iii. 5, 33; Son of 
God not the world, 39 

Sphinx, the, ii. 119, 122 

Spinoza, on substance, i. 334 ; iii. 
325, 327 ; philosophy of, ii. 55 ; 
on God, 357 ; iii. 362 

Spinozism, i. 92, 97, 98 ; said to 
confuse good and evil, 99 ; sub- 
stance in, 333 ; defect in, iii. 320 

Spirit, the witness of, i. 43 ; ii. 
339 ; essentially manifestation, i. 
46; self-producing, 75; contrasted 
with Nature, 108 ; is knowledge 
of itself, 206 ; is eternal and im- 
mortal, iii. 57, 302 ; the kingdom 
of, IOI ; the true miracle, 119; 
the Holy Spirit, 97, 107, 108, 
Iio; attests Christ's mission, 113 

Spiritual Community, the, iii. 100 ; 
a communion of saints, 107 

State, the, and religion, i. 70, 102, 
246, 251 ; final stage of Spirit, 
113; as end, ii. 296 ; realisation 
of Divine, iii. 138 



372 



INDEX 



Stoicism, iii. 63 

Sublimity, religion of, ii. 170 ; God 

in, 172 
Substance, idea of, in religions, 5. 

318; Oriental conception of, ii. 

53 ; in Spinoza, iii. 325 
Syrian religion, the, ii. 82 

TELEOLOGY, ii. 148 

Teleological Proof, ii. 157 ; iii. 

328 ff., 347 ff. 
Theologians, despise doctrine, i. 39 ; 

criticised, 217 ; ii. 345 
Theology, of reason, its nature, i. 

28 ; contrasted with philosophy 

of religion, 31 ; and the Bible, ii. 

343 

Thought, defined, i. 94 ; God exists 
in, 132; contrasted with idea, 
144 ff . ; eternal Idea present in, 
iii. 7 ; and faith, 161 

Trinity, dogma of the, i. 3 } ; mis- 
understood, 159; expresses a 
childlike relation, iii. 25 ; as a 
speculative conception, 29 ; the 



Indian, ii. 14; the Holy, iii. II ; 
the Christian, 99 

Truth v. certainty, iii. 178 

Understanding, the, hates philo- 
sophy, i. 32 ; religion of, ii. 288 ; 
God a mystery to, iii. 17; and 
reason, 22 ; and faith, 231 ; ami 
proofs of existence of God, 265 ; 
and God, 301 ; and contradiction, 
306 ; religion a mystery for, 367 

Universal, the, defined, i. 122 

Utility, religion of, ii. 288 ; is the 
Roman religion, 298 

VEDAS, the, reading of, ii. 18 
Voltaire on faith, i. 219 
Vorstellung, or idea, defined, i. 143 

WILL, the, iii. 50 
"Word," the, ii. 17 ; iii. 31 
Worship, its nature, i. 65, 67, 210 ; 
special forms of, 229 ; as propitia- 
tion, 240 

ZOROASTER, ii. 77 



THE END 



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